Epson's Expression Photo XP-860 Small-in-One Printer

Six-ink photograph quality, speed, CD/DVD labeling, and tons of features

Epson xp-860

The bottom line: A six-ink photo printer, this compact AIO prints well and it has just about every productivity and convenience feature available--a top-notch consumer-grade photo all-in-one.


  • Great-looking output and scans
  • Decent performance
  • Auto-duplexing PDF
  • Compact footprint
  • CD/DVD labeling


  • A bit expensive
  • High cost per page


Two terms that don’t play nice together are “economical” and “photo printer.” While there are quite a few photo printers available nowadays, few, if any, provide low-cost prints—in terms of consumables used, or cost per page (CPP), that is. Hence, while we often find myself impressed with the output, especially the photographs, from 6-ink photo printers like the topic of this review, Epson’s $299.99 (MSRP) Expression Photo XP-860 Small-in-One Printer, the too-high per-page cost of consumables often makes them, depending on your printing needs, less than desirable.

In many ways, the XP-860 reminded us of the $100-cheaper XP-820 reviewed here a few weeks, as well as the equally priced XP-950, also reviewed here recently. The difference, primarily, between the XP-820 and the XP-860 is that the latter uses a 6-ink imaging system, compared to the former’s 5-ink format. The XP-950 not only uses six inks, but you can also print one-off tabloid (11x17-inch) pages via a 1-sheet override tray on the front of the chassis.

Design & Features

Otherwise, these three Small-in-Ones have similar features, as well as (as we’ll discuss shortly) similar CPPs (cost per page). However, both the XP-820 and XP-860 come with auto-duplexing automatic document feeders (ADF) for scanning and copying multipage, two-sided originals without your having to intervene. In addition, the XP-860 supports a long list of mobile printing features, including Google Cloud Print, Apple AirPrint, and a suite of Epson’s own Epson Connect utilities, which includes Email Print, iPrint Mobile App, and Remote Print.

Then, too, like most other Small-in-Ones, this one comes with several PC-free operation options, such as scanning to or printing from several flavors of memory card, including SD, SDHC, SDXC, and MS Duo, as well as USB thumb drives and PictBridge-compliant digital cameras, phones, and other PictBridge-ready devices.

In addition, you can use one of the bundled image editing programs, such as Easy PhotoPrint+, as well as the XP-860’s gorgeous 4.3-inch touch LCD, to make simple corrections, such as red-eye removal and cropping, or other enhancements. And Epson Print CD helps you design CD/DVD labels and jewel case inserts, which you can in turn print onto appropriately surfaced media.

Finally, there’s this Small-in-One’s diminutive footprint, which is certainly one of its most attractive features. At 17.2 inches across, by 23.5 inches from front to back, 8.1 inches tall, and a mere 21.2 pounds, this Small-in-One should fit comfortably on most desktops, and its short height should help it slide comfortably under most low-hanging shelves or cabinets.

Performance & Print Quality

As photo printers go, this one prints business documents faster than most, but especially faster than Canon’s equivalent six-ink photo-printer counterparts, and it churns out photos at a pretty good clip, too. In fact, in all the tests we’ve seen, speed-wise, photo-optimized Small-in-Ones print faster than both their Canon and HP 5- and 6-ink competitors.

As for print quality, like its Small-in-One siblings, the XP-860 churned out exceptional-looking business documents during our tests, with near-laser quality text, good-looking business graphics, and exceptional photos (achieved in part by the inclusion of the two additional ink cartridges, which we’ll look at in a moment). In addition, the scanner consistently delivered quality scans and copies. As we’ve said about several Small-in-Ones in the past, we’ve no real complaints about this AIO’s output.

Cost Per Page

A couple of things: First, photo printers, no matter who makes them, all have too-high CPPs or cost per page; second, most of Epson’s consumer-grade printers have high CPPs. That said, compared to a few competing models, especially Canon’s 5- and 6-ink photo-optimized models, such as the Pixma MG6620 and Pixma MG7620, respectively, this Small-in-One prints document pages a bit cheaper.

When you use Epson’s highest-yield ink tanks with this AIO, the black-and-white CPP runs about 4 cents, and color pages cost about 11.4 cents, which isn’t bad, compared, for example, to the Pixma MG7520’s 4.2 cents for monochrome pages and 11.4 cents color.

In any case, as we’ve said about photo printers in general (and this one is no exception), their high CPPs render them woefully inefficient as document printers. To find out why, check out this “When a $150 Printer can Cost You Thousands” article.

Bottom Line

While the XP-860 is reasonably fast, and it prints great-looking documents and photos, it’s a photo printer foremost, and as a result, the ink tanks are priced accordingly, making it too costly, compared to high-volume models, to print more than 100 or so document pages each month. But if you need a strong photo printer that can print the occasional business document, this one should do the trick.