Epson Expression Premium XP-605 review
32ppm print speed, USB, 802.11b/g/n wireless, 138x390x341mm
The XP-605 has a new five-ink print engine that uses a new range of Claria ink cartridges. These have yet to be tested for photo permanence, but we don't anticipate any problems. Epson's five-ink setup includes a pigment-based black for crisp text and dye-based cyan, magenta, yellow and photo-black inks for glossy photos. Unlike photo-focused six-ink models such as the PX-730WD, there are no light cyan or light magenta inks. The yellow cartridge oozed a bit of ink onto our fingers as we removed its lid prior to fitting, which is something that's never happened to us before with an OEM ink.
In use, the XP-605 is gently impressive. Although it's quick for an inkjet, it's noticeably quiet, even when despatching 16.3 pages of draft text per minute. Photo printing was rapid, even at the printer's best quality setting. It was also very quick when duplex (double-sided) printing, allowing very little drying time before pulling paper back through for a second pass, but it managed to avoid smearing. With our medium-thin test paper, however, much of the print was visible through the page at the default setting.
The new print engine performed well across our tests. Graphics printed on plain paper had bold colours and were free from streaks, banding or other obvious artefacts. Text was blocky compared to most rivals’. At normal quality it was bold with acceptably sharp outlines. Photos were noticeably crisp and exhibited superb detailing in dark regions, along with Epson's characteristically accurate colour reproduction overall. Sadly, our black and white test image exhibited areas of magenta and green bias rather than a neutral greyscale; a particular surprise given the presence of the dedicated photo black ink.
Epson's print interface remains comprehensive yet easy to understand and use
While the XP-605's scanner isn't the sharpest we've tested, it produced perfectly exposed images with accurate colours and plenty of subtle detail among the darkest and lightest regions. It was also very quick at low and medium resolutions. Only our 1,200dpi photo test slowing it down significantly.
The scan interface has several modes, though we normally stick with Professional
The XP-605 is quick and capable, but it's quite expensive to run. The mono cost per page of 5.6p is particularly high because it includes both black ink tanks. In practice only one is used to print text. Conversely, the 5.1p cost per colour page is likely to be lower than the true figure. Regardless, the overall cost of 10.7p per page is high. It's likely that prices will fall somewhat as the new inks become more widely stocked, but at the time of our review they took the shine off Epson's strongest all-rounder yet.