Epson Expression Home XP-5100 Small-in-One Printer

The Epson Expression Home XP-5100 Small-in-One Printer ($119.99) is an entry-level, low-volume inkjet all-in-one (AIO) printer designed for occasional general family use. This wireless 3-in-1 (print, copy, and scan) AIO competes against an army of entry-level AIOs that all have a similar issue: While they’re cheap to buy, they’re expensive to use. If you know what you’re getting into, though, and your print load is light, the XP-5100 is a fine little printer that produces quality output.

Lean Printing Machine

Measuring 7.4 by 14.8 by 19.8 inches (HWD) and weighing 12.1 pounds, the XP-5100 is close in size and weight to several competitors, including the Canon Pixma TS5120 Wireless Inkjet All-in-One Printer, the HP Envy Photo 7155 All-in-One Printer, and the HP Envy Photo 6255. The Canon Pixma TS3120, the bottom-basement model in Canon’s Pixma TS-series, is slightly smaller.

Paper input consists of one 150-sheet tray that pulls out from the front of the chassis. Above that and just beneath the control panel is a small-capacity, pull-out output tray. These specs are about average for this genre. The lower-cost Pixma TS3120, for example, comes with just one 60-sheet input tray, while the next model up the Canon food chain, the TS5120 comes with two 100-sheet input trays, and HP’s Envy 6255 and Envy 7155 both support up to 140 sheets.

Not long ago, Canon stopped publishing the volume stats on its consumer-grade inkjet machines, and now Epson has followed suit. But know that the XP-5100 and this lot aren’t really designed for churning through reams of paper over short periods of time.

Connectivity, Driving the Ship, and Software

Connecting the Epson XP-5100 to your computing devices is a snap. Standard options consist of connecting to a single PC via USB, Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi Direct (up to four simultaneous connections). Third-party options include Apple AirPrint, Android printing, Easy Photo Scan, Fire OS printing, Google Cloud Print, and Mopria Print Service. Also supported are several versions of SD cards, including: SD3, SDHC3, SDXC3 and MiniSD/MiniSDHC/MicroSD/MicroSDHC/MicroSDXC (with adapter).

As on a few of the lower-end Small-in-Ones I’ve seen recently, the Epson XP-5100’s modestly designed control panel consists of a handful of simple buttons for controlling functions and navigating the 2.4-inch color touch screen. You can connect to and control certain aspects of the printer, such as security options and consumables, via the built-in web portal, that you can connect to via the machine’s IP address and your web browser.

Aside from the printer apps and drivers, the XP-5100’s included software bundle is modest. You get only Epson Photo Scan, Epson Printer Language, and Epson Scan. Epson Scan, does, however, support optical character recognition (OCR) for converting scanned text to editable text, which is not exactly a must-have for most family offices, but can come in handy when you need something transcribed into digital format.

Respectable Speed for the Price

Epson rates the XP-5100 at 14 pages per minute (ppm) for monochrome pages and 7.5ppm for color, which is slightly faster than the speeds I got during my tests. I tested the XP-5100 over USB on our standard Intel Core i5 testbed PC running Windows 10 Professional. When printing our 12-page Microsoft Word monochrome text document, it churned at 13.8ppm—just a small fraction off from Epson’s rating. That’s 1.2ppm slower than the Canon TR8520, about 1ppm faster than the HP Envy 6255, the HP Envy 7155, and the Canon TS5120. The XP-5100 also beat out the Canon TS3120 and the Brother MFC-J775DW by 9ppm and 3.8ppm, respectively.

When I combined the results from the previous test with those from printing our colorful, graphics- and photo-laden Acrobat, Excel, and PowerPoint tests, the XP-5100 managed 4.8ppm, which isn’t bad compared with it’s competitors. In fact, it edged past all the other AIOs mention here by a point or two and beat the Canon TS3120 by more than half.

See How We Test Printers

The XP-5100 printed our colorful and highly detailed 4-by-6-inch test snapshots at an average of 32 seconds. At that speed, only the Canon TS5120 managed to beat it; the Brother MFC-J775DW tied it, and the others were a few seconds behind, with the Canon TS3120 coming in half as slow as the XP-5100. Considering how well they each print photos, though (except, perhaps, the MFC-J775DW), the wait times for our snapshots were reasonable.

Good Output Quality, Especially Photos

At their debut and for a year or two thereafter, Small-in-Ones were somewhat renowned for the level of quality available from such small and light machines. Text, while not quite up to laser sharpness and crispness, is well-shaped and highly legible just the same. Business graphics, too, come out well-delineated, with sharp borders, solid fills, and evenly flowing gradations from color to color or tint to tint.

Colors looked accurate, too, though I did notice a few PowerPoint handouts and Excel graphics with light banding and somewhat uneven fills, especially in graphics with large backgrounds and gradients, but not enough to make the documents containing them unsightly.

Epson says that the XP-5100 is a photo-centric machine, as opposed to an AIO more suited for small office printing and copying. And, like most Epson (and most other) inkjet AIOs, this one prints attractive photos, especially when you tweak the driver, making sure that all the appropriate checkboxes and dropdown menus are configured properly.

It’s also important that you use paper designed for inkjet photos. When I set the dialog box settings appropriately, including to make sure that the borderless setting was turned on, and then printed my test photos on the premium glossy paper that Epson sent me, the results were quite impressive.

Pricey Ink

Typically, the less a printer costs, the more it costs to use; although, the availability of alternative types of ink delivery and subscription programs have provided ways to pay less, on a per-page basis, to use your printer. Unfortunately, the XP-5100 offers no alternative to the conventional program. When you buy this AIO’s highest-yield ink tanks, the cost per page (CPP) comes to about 6.4 cents per monochrome page and 17.5 cents for color pages.

Among the printers discussed in this review, at 8.7 cents for monochrome pages and 18.7 cents per color page, only the Canon TS3120 costs more to use. A few of the others, though, such as the HP Envy 6255 and 7155, as well as the Brother MFC-J775DW, offer alternative programs, making their cost per page much more digestible. The XP-5100’s high running costs relegate it to very low-volume use.

Too Many Choices

One thing is certain: The Expression Home XP-5100 Small-in-One Printer is a respectable little AIO. It takes up very little desk space, comes with a good feature mix, and it prints well and fast for the price. Its cost per page, though, is daunting, to the extent that printing or copying more than 50 to 100 pages each month doesn’t make a lot of financial sense especially when there are so many other viable products available.

Several of the AIOs mentioned here, including the HP Envy Photo 7155 and the Brother MFC-J775DW, have similar print quality to the XP-5100, but offer a lower cost of consumables if you choose their respective bulk-ink options. Even so, as long as your printing and copying requirements are modest, the XP-5100 is a decent and affordable little family-based AIO.

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