Review: Epson XP-420 All-in-One

Introduction and design

The budget inkjet printer market is crowded with worthy devices. The Epson Expression Home XP-420 All-in-One ($79.99) is pound for pound one of the best available. Although slightly limited in terms of luxury features and performance, this inexpensive printer is ideal for anyone who wants to print & scan basic documents and medium-definition photos, all via an easy-to-use, mobile-friendly interface.

Rather than compare this device to inferior, but similarly priced printers, like the Canon Pixma MX492 ($99.99, US-only), the XP-420 deserves to be mentioned alongside top dogs like the Canon Pixma MG7520 ($199, £129.95, AU$$219) and its big brother, the Epson Expression Premium XP-820 “Small-in-One” All-in-One Printer ($199, £170, AU$219).

These more expensive machines offer an advanced feature set, including higher quality prints and faster print speeds. However, if you’re in the market for an almost-as-good device, but you’re short on cash, the XP-420 is where you’ll want to turn.


Designed like most printers you’ll find at your local Best Buy, the XP-420 features a glossy, black, plastic frame that will look fine in any modern office space. The XP-420 won’t wow anyone, but it almost certainly won’t offend anyone either (unless they’re really turned off by trite printer design).

Epson XP-420 review

When folded up into its non-operational, rectangular design, the XP-420 measures 15.4 x 11.8 x 5.7 inches (W x D x H) and weighs only nine pounds. That’s about two inches slimmer and eight pounds lighter than the Canon Pixma MG7520, and two inches slimmer and 12 pounds lighter than the more advanced Epson XP-820. Keep that in mind if storage and portability are among your chief concerns.

The front of the printer features a 2.5-inch color LCD screen that is not touch-capable. Because most manufacturers produce cramped and unresponsive printer touchscreens (ahem, Canon), I actually prefer printer navigation that doesn’t require touch interactions. Perhaps I’m a bit old school, or maybe manufacturers just haven’t mastered their craft (the latter), but I’d rather touch a responsive button than an imprecise screen. Luckily for me, the XP-420 is buttons galore.

Along the left and ride side of the LCD screen, you’ll find a home button, a back button, four directional buttons, a select button, a cancel button and a start button. From a design perspective, this may not be ideal, but from a user experience perspective, you’ll be thankful.

Beneath the screen you’ll find a five-inch-wide collapsible output tray that neatly tucks back into the body of the printer. Above the buttons and underneath the top cover you’ll find a scanning screen, behind which sits a collapsible eight-inch-wide input tray.

Both trays niftily disappear when contracted. However, because you’re dealing with a budget machine, you’ll want to handle them with care, as neither sits very firmly within the printer. In fact, the whole machine feels a bit frail to the touch, so don’t drop it from too high or squeeze with too much strength.

Specs and image quality

The XP-420 is a bare bones printer that has just enough spec pizazz to battle for a place on your desk. It fits four small ink cartridges (Black, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow) that are incredibly easy to install. The cartridges won’t give you the color complexity of the six-tank Pixma MG7520 or the five-cartridge XP-820, but if you’re a photo enthusiast rather than a professional photographer, this likely won’t matter to you.

You can load up to 100 plain letter sheets into the input tray, same as the XP-820, but not as many as the Pixma MG7520, which can handle up to 125 sheets. You can connect to the device via a USB 2.0 cord, which is (annoyingly) not provided, or via 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi.Epson XP-420 review

Maximum print quality is where the spec sheet suffers. The Canon Pixma MG7520 prints at a maximum dpi (dots per inch) of 9,600 X 2,400. The XP-820 and XP-420 only produce prints that are 5,760 x 1,440 optimized dpi.

This means your colors won’t be as vibrant, your images will lack detail and complexity, and images will wash out along the edges. They’ll still look great, just not as great as ones produced by the Pixma MG7520 and any other more expensive, photo-focused device. However, compared with the more expensive HP Envy, which only prints images at 4,800 x 1,200 dpi, the XP-420 offers tremendous bang for your buck.

In terms of print value, one Epson 220 standard package that contains three color cartridges on will run you about $24, and you’ll need to purchase a $12 black ink cartridge as well, which brings you to $36 before tax, shipping and handling. You can also purchase individual color cartridges for about $8.99 each.

I was able to print 10 8 x 10 color photos, five 5 x 7 color photos and 20 4 x 6 color photos before the machine alerted me that I was running low on ink. By using the navigation, I was able to go into the system and find out which of the four inks was nearly depleted. I learned that 50% of my black ink remained, 40% of my yellow ink remained and about 20% of my blue ink remained. However, magenta had run down to about 5%. That’s not bad productivity for an $8.99 ink cartridge.

Gadget geeks will find plenty of wireless printing and scanning capabilities on this device, including Epson’s proprietary wireless software, Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print. I’ll talk more about wireless printing and scanning in a few paragraphs.


Right out of the box, you’ll enjoy using the XP-420. This may sound like an understatement if you’ve never owned your own printer, but typical installation processes can be time-consuming and frustrating. Not with this device. I was up and running via laptop-based and iPhone-based Wi-Fi in fewer than five minutes, and I printed my first black & white document in just 34 seconds. The Canon Pixma MG7520 is easy to install, but the XP-420 is light years faster.

Unlike other devices, including the Pixma, you won’t need to run a bevvy of test prints before you get started. I was able to print a 5 x 7-inch color photo on Premium Gloss Photo Paper as my second print. The image quality was decent, but it took three minutes and 32 seconds for the small image to complete.

Compared to the Pixma, which produced a better quality print on much larger Letter-sized Glossy Paper in just 85 seconds. On the XP-820, I was able to print a 4 x 6 color snapshot in about 12 seconds on Glossy Photo Paper. So if time is of the essence, you’ll want to pay a bit more for advanced devices.

Black and white images were a bit more manageable. It took 13 seconds to produce one B&W text-based document, which is slightly worse than the Canon, which produced a similar document in nine seconds. I got comparable results running the page-per-minute test. The XP-420 pushed out eight B&W pages in 60 seconds, while the Pixma MG7520 spat out 14 pages. You won’t notice a difference in B&W text quality.

For those of you who have your prints and documents stored at home, the XP-420 offers easy scanning-to-computer functionality. Simply click the method with which you’d like to transfer the document, and press scan. The image will automatically appear on your computer’s desktop, where you will be prompted to save it. The whole process took about thirty seconds.


The Epson XP-420 isn’t a titan of the printing industry. But for only $79.99, you can’t ask for transcendance. What you get here is a device that does everything pretty well, pretty fast and for a low, low price. It’s not going to be as fast as more expensive models, and its images won’t be as complex, but you won’t be disappointed.

We liked

You can’t beat the price. For only $79.99, you’re getting as much bang for your buck as you can hope to expect. This device is almost as good as printers that cost three times as much money, and it blows similarly-priced devices out of the water.

Your images will be more than satisfactory (albeit not professional), your print speeds will be manageable (although not quite blazing) and you’ll get everything in a compact and light frame. I found the navigation to be top-notch, thanks to good, old-fashioned buttons, rather than a cramped touchscreen.

Finally, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy-to-install the XP-420 is. First-time printer owners will thank me for recommending this device.

We disliked

This printer is designed like every other printer on the market. Black, glossy, plastic, boring. And the boring plastic doesn’t even feel like it can withstand many bumps and bruises. (That said, I am speculating about this. Nothing actually broke on me.)

I hate to say I disliked the images the printer produced, but they aren’t top-of-the-line. And, if color complexity is your top priority, then you should look elsewhere. The same thing can be said about print speeds.

This machine isn’t slow, but it isn’t a conveyor belt either. If you want to spit out a ton of documents at a rapid clip, don’t buy this device.

Final verdict

At the heart of every TechRadar review, we try to weigh functionality, design and value equally. Often times, the functionality is so impressive, we’re willing to overlook a high price tag (yes, Apple, we’re talking about you).

In this case, I’m using the reverse equation: the Epson XP-420 does everything only moderately well, but it is so inexpensive you can’t help but want one. If you don’t need professional-level photo prints, and you don’t mind an extra few seconds for every B&W document you print, then you’d be wise to buy this machine, which performs just a bit less remarkably than printers 300% more expensive.