When it comes to photo printing in particular, I’ve had more Epson-branded hardware at home over the years than other brands, a testament to the company’s reputation for quality images that don’t break the bank. In my experience, Epson printers also tend to offer more features than the competition, and the company’s latest is no exception.
At roughly 13.5 inches square and 5.6 inches tall while stored, the Epson Expression Photo XP-8600 is relatively compact as inkjet printers go, especially considering everything the hardware does. Despite the XP-8600’s diminutive size, the main tray holds up to 100 sheets of letter-sized plain paper (or 10 envelopes), with another 20 sheets of up to 5 x 7 photo paper in the smaller tray above. Although maxing out at 8.5 x 11 inches, the main tray can be temporarily extended to accommodate several legal-sized pages; a rear paper feed allows for longer sizes up to 44 inches.
In addition to cranking out crisp, clean monochrome or color documents and vivid photos on average, this so-called “small-in-one” also prints directly on CD and DVD discs. This trick is performed by opening the bottom paper tray, pulling out the disc tray on the right side, raising the control panel, and inserting into an optical media slot until the arrows line up.
Like many recent models, XP-8600 uses six included Epson 312 cartridges—cyan, magenta, yellow, black, light cyan, light magenta—providing high-quality prints in as little as 10 seconds. In tests with the unit idle, full-coverage 4 x 6 photos in Fine mode land in the output tray about 30 seconds after hitting the Print button.
Like other printers, the XP-8600 can be connected to Mac or PC with an optional USB cable. The all-in-one also has a larger-than-normal 4.3-inch color touchscreen on the front that makes it super easy to copy, print, or scan using an SD card or USB thumb drive. The touchscreen also makes it a snap to get connected, especially for inputting your wireless router’s password.
Wireless connectivity enables a host of other cool options, including Siri voice-activated tasks like checking ink levels and printing the last photo shot on your iPhone, or custom designs from the free Creative Print mobile app. The only snafu was when updating the firmware; our review unit complained about connecting to the internet despite repeatedly informing us there was an online update available. (We plugged the unit into a iMac 5K instead, where the update downloaded and installed without a hitch.)
In addition to ample printing skills, Epson XP-8600 features a 1,200-dpi flatbed…