Reviewed on: February 2015
The Epson XP-950 is ideal for homes or small-to-medium offices that need day-to-day functionality from their printer, A3 prints and frequently print colour.
Features & Connectivity
The XP-950 has enough features to make it by as an office printer as well as a photo printer, giving you the following capabilities:
- Wireless & networking
- Touch screen display
- Duplex (2-sided printing) for A4
- AirPrint & Cloud Print support
- Border-less printing
That's more than enough to tide an office by for daily activities and in return you receive excellent quality photo prints in an A3 machine that isn't too expensive to purchase. The only features you're missing are Fax and an Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) which lets you scan/copy more than one document at a time. If these features are critical for you and you don't need A3 check out the Epson XP-800 instead, it's a more office orientated machine that should be perfect for you.
The wireless and AirPrint/Cloud Print support worked flawlessly for us, with easy set up through the on-screen menu. You've also got the ability to print from and scan to memory cards and USB, making the printer usable even if you don't have a PC.
Though the XP-950 has three different areas to feed in paper it has the annoying downside that its main paper tray can only hold 100 sheets. This is a minuscule amount, one fifth of a ream of paper, so if you're in a busy office this printer probably won't be suitable (unless you're a fan of restocking paper trays).
Print Speed & Quality
Let's start with the most annoying feature of the XP-950. If you are printing in A3 you have to send a print request THEN load the paper into the printer, sheet by sheet. If you have the paper in before you are instructed the page will just pass through the printer blank. This gets frustrating pretty quickly and is completely opposite to how other A3 printers work.
Otherwise, the XP-950 is surprisingly nippy for Epson who typically have slower machines. Standard prints come out around 5 pages per minute (ppm), and 6x4 photo prints on best finish in just over 1 minute. That's close to other budget office machines and you'll only really beat this when looking at the new dedicated Office printers being released by HP etc. A3 prints on best take upwards of 6 minutes.
You don't buy an A3 image printer for speed though, so what about the print quality? Text printing with the XP-950 comes out acceptable but not great. Put a work document side by side to higher end models or laser printers and you'll notice a slight dip in quality. It's still good enough for reports and typical work but for the full professional finish it will fall behind.
Image prints are superb though, particularly with colour. Colours were bright and the more vivid the scene you were printing the better the results. Skin tones came out strongly and all of our results were a definite thumbs up. Be wary of the mono photo's, however, with a slight tinge to the final product (a magenta'y hue in our test prints). If you're aiming for black and white images we'd advise looking elsewhere. Overall colour printing is definitely this machines strong point, a big thumbs up.
Cartridges & Running Costs
The XP-950 takes 6 separate Epson cartridges, the extra 2 being Light Cyan and Light Magenta options designed to improve your photo prints (in fancy terms it gives you a higher possible colour gamut). Installation is easy, just open the printer lid and the carriage will slide out allowing you to remove/install whichever ink you need. The slots are clearly marked so there's no risk of error.
Considering it is an office printer/A3 photo printer combo the running costs are lower than you'd expect. It's obviously not the cheapest black-only printing as it's designed for colour images, not pure office work, but the black cost of around 2p a page is respectable. If you need much lower running costs and still need A3 then consider the Brother range of A3 printers such as the MFC-J6520dw instead.
The cartridges are not the highest capacity, the XL black only comes in at an estimated 500 pages (using 5% page coverage industry standard), so again if you're in a busy office this printer isn't ideal. Otherwise the cartridges are standard fare for Epson, competitively priced but not cheap. Multipacks look more expensive in comparison, but that's largely due to a pack containing 6 cartridges instead of 4.
There's a list of live cartridge prices at the bottom of this review, or you can see a complete list of Epson XP-950 ink here.
Who Should Buy This Printer?
The Epson XP-950 is a home/office printer designed for individuals wanting A3 image prints whilst still enjoying multi-functionality from their printer. In this regard, Epson has achieved their mark and this printer is one of the better options for people needing exactly that.
If you're after more of an Office machine and A3 doesn't matter, check out the Epson XP-800 instead. If A3 is a definite requirement then Brother's line of A3 inkjets are the place to look, but the photo printing won't be as good.