The Expression Photo XP-960 is a smaller all-in-one A3 printer that is the top end range for Epson’s generation of photo multi-functional printers. For what it offers, consumers might find it more on the expensive side and it can be slow to get going, but is worth a look for those wanting a machine capable of printing in borderless A3.
Under the hood, the core features of the XP-960 are printing, scanning to a PC and standalone copying, as it is meant for home-user rather than business. It lacks some useful office features such as an automatic document feeder and fax capability. Connectivity via both Ethernet and Wifi is included however, allowing you to easily share the printer across your home network or allowing the XP-960 to be placed anywhere.
If you also have photos on a memory card the machine can print from or scan to a memory card. Printable CDs can also be copied on directly from the scanner or from a USB stick. This can all be done through the 4.3 inch LCD screen which has quite a few menu options. Well designed, the LCD screen is big enough to make commands easy and responsive to your touch, making controlling the unit smooth.
Considering the XP-960 can print from a wide range of different paper sizes, bordered or borderless it lacks some decent paper handling options. The main tray will only hold just 100 sheets and has a max size capacity of 8.5 by 11 inches. There is a duplexing option on the printer which technically gives you 200 ‘sheets’ and a second smaller tray for photo paper but there is only the top feeder for A3 which does one sheet at a time. This limits the usefulness of the top tray as you can not just have multiple sheets in the tray to print continually in tabloid size. First, you need to send the job to the printer, wait for a dialogue message to appear on the LCD asking you to load the paper. If you load the printer first, it will spit the paper back out without printing anything.
In today’s world of cloud-based systems, the XP-960 also supports printing via the cloud, as well as printing from and scanning to a phone or tablet through your network. If you connect the printer up to a PC rather than your home network, you won’t be able to print through the cloud but can use the WiFi-Direct option to print or scan to a mobile device. Registering the printer with Epson Connect will allow you to use the front panel options of scanning to Google Drive, DropBox, Evernote and others.
Measuring at 14cm x 48cm x 41cm and weighing 8.7kg, it is not a big heavy printer compared to other printers which can also create A3 prints. Setting up the printer is pretty easy, with clip-in inks coming in 6 different colours. Testing the printing speed of the XP-960 it takes around 5 pages per minute (PPM) to print a standard A4 page, this makes it pretty slow for how much it is going to cost you. Of course, printing photos which are 4×6 will take about a minute and A3 prints will take even longer over 3 minutes, so be prepared to wait.
Quality from the prints are pretty good, photos and graphics come out well and the colours are pretty accurate from the original. Text printing could be better but it is still more than suitable for home use and if you are planning on a lot of text printing, just buy a laser printer. As with the name, the printer focuses more on bringing out decent photo prints. Testing a couple of different papers, the standard printer paper creates quite dull images but using the Epson Premium Photo Paper created some nice vibrant and lovely prints. I was impressed with how well the upscaling worked, printing from a scanned A4 painting to A3 size was clear and crisp without any noticeable fuzziness.
Overall, the Epson XP-960 photo printer main USP is being able to print in A3 which is pretty rare for a home MFP. Although rare, this is what makes it more expensive to buy compared to other home MPF’s on the market, so unless you need the feature specifically, you’d be better off buying a smaller sized like the Epson XP-420 or the Canon Pixma MG5270. If you need to print at bigger sizes more often, you might also need to look elsewhere as the one sheet capacity might not be for you. If not, the XP-960 creates some great photos on decent paper, an easy to navigate menu with a lot of options and won’t take up too much space.