Introduction, Design Features
We remember, about four or five years ago, when the first Epson Small-in-One printers appeared on the market. Then as now, their key selling point was, of course, size: You could buy an all-in-one (AIO) machine with a very small footprint that printed, copied, and scanned, and tuck it on the corner of your desk. The Expression Home Small-in-Ones have been a mainstay for many years, like the Expression Home XP-410 Small-in-One we reviewed back in 2013, a distant predecessor to the $99.99-MSRP Expression Home XP-440 Small-in-One we are reviewing here today.
This is actually the fourth iteration of the XP-400 series. The XP-410 mentioned above was followed by the Expression Home XP-420Expression Home XP-430; we reviewed that last one less than a year ago. Aside from a new feature here or there and some performance tweaking, the XP-400 series really hasn’t seen much change over the years. And, as you can see in the image below, its physical appearance has stayed remarkably consistent, too…
The XP-440 is the one on the right; the XP-410 is on the left. Making a few tweaks to a product, up-ticking the name, and releasing it as a new product is common practice among printer makers. Not only does releasing slightly iterated machines with incrementally higher model numbers, year after year, keep the products themselves fresh to an extent (generating new reviews, like this one!), but it also gives us technology journalists something to do. We’re not complaining.
Like the first XP-400 series model, the XP-440 delivers top-notch quality across all of its prime functions. It churns out stellar prints, especially photos, and it scans quite well. This is, however, an entry-level, low-volume AIO printer designed for home and family use. It’s meant for environments that will demand only light usage, and that’s evidenced by its lack of an automatic document feeder (ADF) for sending multipage documents to the scanner without user intervention. That omission is expected in this price range, but it severely limits your scanning capabilities.
Like most other entry-level AIOs of its class, this one, like its predecessors, costs a lot to use, in terms of the per-page price of ink. That’s always a critical issue for us. Historically, we’ve always recommended expensive-to-use machines like this one with the caveat that, because of the running cost, they are practical for only minimal use (say, no more than a few hundred prints or copies per month). Our beef is that the buyers of these entry-level AIOs who actually use their printers day to day end up getting taxed, and heavily, for doing so.
Nowadays, though, with the advent of “supertank” printers like Epson’s own EcoTank models and Canon’s MegaTank AIOs (such as the Epson Expression ET-3600 and Canon Pixma G3200), users have more choices. If you need to print hundreds of pages on your entry-level AIO, you can opt to pay more for the printer itself, with the aim being to pay less for the ink to keep it going. If, on the other hand, you need a printer but will use it little, you can spend less than $100 on a small AIO like the XP-440, in exchange for higher per-page ink costs over its life. If you print only a few pages each month, then the cost of ink is less important. Hence, our perspective on the cost per page typically seen in low-cost entry-level AIOs like this one has changed with the times.
That said, the Epson Expression XP-440’s running costs are, as you’ll see in the Cost Per Page section later on, quite high. Even so, if all you need is to print and make copies on a small scale, the XP-440 is designed to do just that, and it does it quite well.
Aside from some minor cosmetic changes (the scanner lid is flatter on the newer model), the XP-440 is nearly identical in appearance to the model it’s replacing, the XP-430…
The XP-440 is the one on the right, the one with the flatter lid. At 15.4 inches across by 20.8 inches from front to back by 11 inches high, and weighing 9.5 pounds, the newer model is exactly the same size as its predecessor, and about half a pound heavier.
As mentioned, the XP-440 has no ADF for scanning multipage documents automatically. Instead, you’ll have to scan them one page at a time, manually. If you’ve done much of that with a scanner like this, you know how tedious and time-consuming it can be. In addition, the XP-440 can’t print two-sided pages automatically. To get both an ADF and auto-duplex printing from an Epson Expression model, you’ll have to step up to the much pricier Expression XP-860, which lists for $299.99. (As we wrote this, however, Epson was offering it on its site for $100 off that MSRP.)
Connectivity options consist of Wi-Fi, connecting to a single PC via USB, and Wi-Fi Direct (which allows you to print from or scan to your mobile device without either it or the printer being on the same intermediary network). Epson also provides several mobile connectivity apps, including Epson Connect, Epson Email Print, Epson Remote Print, Epson iPrint, Epson Print and Scan, and Epson Creative Print.
In addition, you can print from and scan to SD cards via a slot to the left of the output tray…
You can configure the printer and perform direct-from-the-device tasks, such as making copies or scanning to the cloud, from the XP-440’s control panel, which is anchored by a 2.7-inch color LCD…
It’s color, but it’s not a touch panel. The panel tilts upward for easier viewing and use, as you can see above.
You navigate the panel options with four arrow keys and an OK button. Other buttons on the panel include Power, Home, Back, plus and minus keys (for increasing and decreasing the number of copies), Start (to initiate making copies), and Stop (Cancel). This is the same control panel the XP-400-series models have had since day one; we found it easy to figure out and use then, and now.
Finally, there’s the bundled software, which consists of the printer driver, Epson Scan, and Epson Photo Scan. Epson Scan is a time-tested, full-featured scanning interface that includes optical character recognition (OCR) for converting scanned text to editable text. It allows you to choose from a beginner-oriented interface with minimal features, or an advanced interface that provides extensive control over the scanner’s performance. Epson Photo Scan, meanwhile, contains a few filters, such as dust-and-scratch removal and red-eye correction that you can apply as you scan in your family-album snapshots.
For some time now, the process of setting up an entry-level printer like this has become pretty much foolproof, as it is with the XP-440.
At less than 10 pounds, it’s easy to unpack. The XP-440’s color display walks you through connecting the printer to your wireless network and installing the ink cartridges. In our tests, the software found the printer right away and installed the appropriate drivers and utilities.
It’s so simple, in fact, that setting up these little printers gives us very little to talk about. For consistency in testing, when an Ethernet interface is unavailable, like on this model, we test over USB. Understanding, though, that nowadays most people will use this printer over Wi-Fi, we also tested it to make sure that there were no issues when connecting to a wireless network. There were none.
Cost Per Page
If it weren’t for the XP-440’s high running costs, this might be the ideal entry-level low-volume printer (for folks who don’t need an ADF, that is).
Epson offers two capacity classes of ink cartridge for this printer: standard, and so-called high-yield, or “XL.” The standard-size black-ink tank is rated (by Epson) at 175 pages, and it sells on Epson’s direct-sales site for $12.99. The three color tanks (cyan, magenta, and yellow), when combined with the black ink, are good for 165 prints among them, and they sell for $9.99 each. Using these estimated yields and pricing, we calculated the XP-440’s monochrome cost per page (CPP) at 7.4 cents, and the color cost per page at a whopping 26 cents per page.
These running costs are eye-poppingly high, especially the color one. Spending more than a dollar to print four color pages (and not even photos, at that) is a lot! There are a couple of ways to reduce these exorbitant costs. Choosing the high-yield tanks helps, and opting for an ink combo pack (containing all four high-yield tanks) will save you even more.
That said, the high-yield black tank is good for 500 pages at a cost of $30.99, and the three color tanks yield 450 pages and sell for $16.99 each. The estimate, then, with these tanks is a running cost of 6.2 cents each for black-and-white pages and 18.2 cents each for color. Choosing the XL combo pack ($58.99) will reduce the color CPP to 13.1 cents.
If you’re printing or copying 100 or so pages each month, these costs probably won’t break you. Compare them to what we’ve calculated from Epson’s own EcoTank models and Canon’s MegaTank machines, though, and the XP-440’s CPP figures are off the chart. (Both deliver running costs under a penny per page for both monochrome and color pages.) If you consistently print a couple of hundred pages or more each month, the choice between these two types of printers seems obvious.
The XP-440’s sole paper tray extends from the back of the chassis and holds either 100 sheets of standard paper or 20 sheets of premium photo paper. There is no paper cartridge.
Because paper loads from the back of this printer, the print path is a straight shot through the machine, under the print heads, and on to the 30-sheet-or-so output tray. Loading paper is a snap, as is changing paper type and size; you simply remove the current stock, adjust the guides, and slip in the new media. There are no drawers to open and reconfigure.
It doesn’t get much easier than this, though it does mean your paper is exposed to the elements when the printer is not in use. We printed hundreds of document pages and several photos, exhausting more than one set of ink cartridges, without incident. The paper path worked flawlessly.