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Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000 Review

This low-cost, full-sized machine delivers high-end results
Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000
Credit: Jason Peters
Best Buy Award
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Price:   $350 List | $400 at Amazon
Pros:  Consistent color, easy set-up, broad format options
Cons:  Microbanding in grayscale, relatively low definition in dark areas
Manufacturer:   Epson
By Nick Miley, Jason Peters and Austin Palmer  ⋅  Apr 6, 2020
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67
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 13
  • Color - 35% 6
  • Black and White - 35% 7
  • Print Capabilities - 15% 8
  • Operating Cost - 10% 7
  • Set-Up - 5% 5

Our Verdict

The economical Epson Expression is a great choice for photographers looking to expand their print capabilities but not their credit card balance. While there are some shortfalls in photo quality when compared to the highest-end printers, it is amazing what this machine can do at the price. The Expression's color prints are vibrant and crisp, and this quality is largely maintained across all size formats. Moreover, we were particularly impressed that, given this machine's compact dimensions, it can render 13" x 44" prints.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award   Best Buy Award 
Price $350 List$800 List$500 List$250 List
$256 at Amazon
$100 List
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Pros Consistent color, easy set-up, broad format optionsBroad print dimensions, vast print mediums, low print costs, fantastic image fidelityHigh resolution, vivid colors, great dynamic rangeGreat color rendition, good dynamic range, good tonal rangeEasy to use, decent resolution, prints common sizes
Cons Microbanding in grayscale, relatively low definition in dark areasHuge footprint, expensiveHard to set-up, big footprintPoor resolution, few paper options, relatively expensiveMicrobanding in larger formats, off skin tones, over saturation
Bottom Line This printer yields high-quality images at a reasonable priceThis near-professional quality machine leaves little to be desiredThis is a top-tier, professional level printer at a reasonable priceThis spendy machine is among the best of mid-size printers in color rendition and dynamic rangeA quality mid-size machine that will appeal to the casual user
Rating Categories Expression Photo... Epson SureColor P600 Canon PIXMA Pro-100 Epson PictureMate... Canon PIXMA TR4520
Color (35%)
6
8
8
5
6
Black And White (35%)
7
9
9
7
6
Print Capabilities (15%)
8
9
7
5
5
Operating Cost (10%)
7
8
7
7
5
Set Up (5%)
5
6
4
6
6
Specs Expression Photo... Epson SureColor P600 Canon PIXMA Pro-100 Epson PictureMate... Canon PIXMA TR4520
Resolutioin (dots per inch) 5760 x 1440 5760 x 1440 4800 x 2400 5760 x 1440 4800 x 1200
Max photo deminsions (inches) 13" x 44" 13" x 129" 13" x 19" 5" x 7" 8" x 10"
Cost per print (4" x 6" or mini print) $0.45 $0.36 $0.40 $0.45 $0.58
Machine deminsions (HxWxD inches) 6.3" x 18.7" x 14.5" 9" x 24.2" x 14.5" 8.5" x 27.2" x 15.2" 3.3" x 9" x 6.9" 7.5" x 17.2" x 11.7"
Printing technology Inkjet (Piezo DOD) Inkjet (Piezo DOD) Inkjet (Theromal DOD) Inkjet (Piezo DOD) Inkjet (Theromal DOD)
Print time per 4" x 6" (or mini print) 34 seconds 63 seconds 55 seconds 86 seconds 128 seconds
Color palette (ink cartridges) Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black, Gray, Red Matte Black, Cyan, Vivid Magenta, Yellow, Light Cyan, Vivid Light Magenta, Light Black, Light Light Black Black, Gray, Light Gray, Cyan, Photo Cyan, Magenta, Photo Magenta, Yellow Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black Black plus color cartridge
LCD screen Yes Yes No Yes No
Touch Screen No Yes No No No
Battery No No No No No
Memory cards supported N/A N/A N/A SD, SDHC, SDXC, MiniSD, MiniSDHC, MicroSD, MicroSDHC, MicroSDXC N/A
Ink type Dye-based Pigment-based Dye-based Dye-based Pigment (black) and dye-based (color)
Roller paper No Yes No No No
Connectivity iPad, iPhone and Android tablets, Alexa and smartphones; Ethernet networking, andard Connectivity:
Hi-Speed USB, USB Host, Wireless 802.11 b/g/n5, Wi-Fi Direct 5, Ethernet 10/100
Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print support; USB 2.0, Wireless n1, Wi-Fi Direct1 and 100Mbit Ethernet, Hi-Speed USB 2.0 (1 port), 100Base-T Ethernet (1 port), Wi-Fi CERTIFIED (802.11n only), Wi-Fi Direct
Epson Connect 4: Epson iPrint Mobile App, Apple Airprint, Google Cloud Print
Wireless LAN (IEEE 802.11 b/g/n), Ethernet
Hi-Speed USB, PictBridge (Cable not included)
Hi-Speed USB 2.0/Wireless 802.11 b/g/n5, WiFi Direct4 Printing from a Mobile Device:
Epson Connect 6, Epson Email Print, Epson iPrint Mobile App, AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Android Printing, Remote Print
Hi-Speed USB
Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n wireless networking, 2.4 GHz)
Operating system requirements Windows 10 8/8.1/Windows 7 (32-bit, 64-bit)
Windows Vista (32-bit , 64-bit)
Mac OS X 10.6.8 — macOS 10.12.x6
Apple macOS 10.13.x-10.12.x, OS X: 10.11x-10.7x
&
Microsoft Windows®: 10, 8.1, 7 (32-bit, 64-bit)
Windows 7, Windows 7 SP1, Windows Vista SP1, Vista SP2, Windows XP SP3 32-bit Intel processor
Mac OS X v10.5.8 - 10.9.x7
Windows 7 (32-bit, 64-bit), Windows 8.x (32-bit, 64-bit), Windows Vista (32-bit, 64-bit), Windows XP SP3 (32-bit), Windows XP Professional x64 Edition Windows 10, Mac OS X 10.6.8 — 10.10.x8;
Internet access is required to install drivers and software.
Windows:20 Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7 SP1, Mac:21
Mac OS X v10.10.5 - macOS v10.13 (High Sierra)
Mobile Operating Systems:22 iOS, Android, Windows 10 Mobile, and Fire OS (Amazon Fire) devices
Scanner No No No No Yes (bed and feed)
Touch Screen No Yes No No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

Of all the machines in our review capable of producing 13" wide images, the Epson Expression has the smallest footprint. This machine makes use of piezo dot on demand inkjet technology to produce multiple drop sizes that, when combined with its 6 color ink palette, produce rich colors in a broad dynamic range. Thanks to the LCD screen, set up is easy, too. Considering all these features, the quality of its prints and a competitive price point, it should be no wonder why we were so impressed with this machine.

Performance Comparison


The Expression has very reliable color consistency across all but...
The Expression has very reliable color consistency across all but the largest formats.
Credit: Laura Casner

Color


The Epson Expression produces some of the better color outcomes that we observed during our testing. These outcomes were exhibited across both high and low-cost papers and in all but the largest print formats. The exception being seen in the 13" x 19" format where skin tones were noticeably off. Yet, the resolution rendered by this machine is well above average for the class.


The testing criteria we used to rate the color printing capability of this printer focused on overall impression and resolution. Resolution is an assessment of the amount of detail that is present in the print. We rate the quality of resolution by comparison to the original image and also by comparison to the prints produced by the other machines in the review class. Overall impression takes stock of print features such as definition and color fidelity. Additionally, we look for issues such as microbanding and streaking. Taken as a whole, our appraisal of this printer based on these criteria was high.

The black and white prints from the Expression were near the top of...
The black and white prints from the Expression were near the top of the class, though you can get better results with higher-end paper.
Credit: Laura Casner

Black and White


While the Epson's color prints left us with little to complain about, the black and white renderings presented a few problems. First, the best results were seen on the more expensive, high-quality paper. Even when using the best paper, the test prints displayed some streaking in lager, dark areas of the images and some banding in the middle gray tones. Additionally, the prints tended towards a sepia hue that, while not unpleasant, did not match the original. That said, the grayscale gradients were smooth, and the resolution was quite good by comparison to all but the highest-end models.


The assessments of the Expression's black and white renderings were made along the same lines as those of the color prints. Namely, we looked at resolution and overall impression. However, grayscale offers the opportunity to look at print characteristics such as dynamic range and tonal transitions without the masking effects that color can produce. This is one reason why the criticisms listed above were not apparent in the color evaluation. Despite these shortcomings, we were quite pleased with what this relatively low priced machine could achieve.

If you want prints in a hurry, this printer isn't exactly a...
If you want prints in a hurry, this printer isn't exactly a record-setter.
Credit: Laura Casner

Print Capabilities


In many ways, the print capabilities metric is a printer classification exercise. The Expression falls into what we call the full-size model category not just because of its physical proportions, but because of the wide range of print dimensions and material it can accommodate. While we are not going to list all the materials that this machine will print on, suffice it to say that it covers everything from plain printer paper to high-end glossy photo paper, as well as adhesive-backed sticker paper and iron-on transfer sheets for making t-shirts. Additionally, this machine can print on photo sheets ranging in size from 4" x 6" to 13" x 44", making large panoramic renderings possible.


We also looked at printing speed and the capacity of the paper tray. The Epson did not fail to impress. This machine will kick out a 4" x 6" color photo in just 36 seconds — way below the average for the class. Additionally, it can hold up to 50 sheets of photo paper. These two features make photo album printing and the like more manageable.

At just $0.43 a print, this machine's long-term costs are as low as...
At just $0.43 a print, this machine's long-term costs are as low as its up-front cost
Credit: Laura Casner

Operating Costs


The operating cost metric provides potential buyers with an estimate of the long term cost of running a printer. To make this estimate more digestible, we have broken it down to the amount of money it will cost on average to produce a single 4" x 6" color print. The Epson Expression will set you back around $0.45 per photo. To put this in context, the national photo developer that we used for comparison costs $0.33 per print. However, we should say that we weren't all that impressed with the quality of those prints.


Getting a cost per print figure is a bit of a challenge. The difficulty lies in calculating the average amount of ink used per square inch when rendering a photo. To get at this figure we relied on data provided by printing labs that ran inkjet printers for hundreds of hours. We then compared that data to the ink we consumed printing over 320 test photos and found the number to be pretty accurate, if not higher than what we observed. The other part of the equation is the cost of the paper, which requires no estimate at all.

While the LCD screen helps with set-up, some connection...
While the LCD screen helps with set-up, some connection interruptions issues hurt this model in the set-up assessment.
Credit: Laura Casner

Set-up


As the name of this metric indicates, this was an analysis of the printer set-up process from opening the box to printing the first picture. As desktop printers go, this was one of the easier machines to get going, though we did have some issues with our computer disconnecting from the printer post set-up, a problem that was not observed with any of the other machines in our review.


This printer requires you to download a drive, which is software that converts the image on the computer to a format that the printer can use. This is not an uncommon step for desktop printers. Epson hosts a page to facilitate this process and it was easy to navigate. This printer does have a relatively long initializing phase, but it was not complicated. More importantly, the first prints came out looking pretty good.

Value


Plain and simple, we think this machine is a fantastic value. It does have some shortcomings when compared to the other full-size machines, but the reduction in cost more than compensates for them. The only scenario in which this machine would not be seen as a good value is if it is more printer than you require. In which case, the not insignificant cost and size of the Epson Expression may be burdensome. That said, this machine is a great tool for those looking to expand their printing capabilities without breaking the bank.

Conclusion


The Epson Expression is a competitively priced, full-size photo printer that doesn't cut too many corners to keep the cost low. We were more than impressed with this machine's color printing capabilities, as well as the range of formats and mediums that it can use. This model did display some shortcomings when working in grayscale, but they were tolerable considering all the other benefits. All and all, this machine is a good choice for those who want a full-size photo printer but don't need to produce professional-quality prints.

Nick Miley, Jason Peters and Austin Palmer