There’s a downside to pictures taken with smartphone cameras. Sure they may let you shoot just about anywhere/anytime, but an unintended consequence is that only the person holding the device it was shot on gets to see it. Printing photos may seem “old school,” but it’s the only real way to make for instantaneous viewing. So what’s the solution? It’s not printing photos on word processing paper using a text-driven printer, it’s printing your photos on photo paper using a photo-dedicated printer. And it’s not about going to some store where special equipment is in place to charge you a ton of cash. It’s about getting Epson’s Expression Photo XP-8500 Small-in-One All-in-One Printer.
The XP-8500 doesn’t look forward to printing novels or school reports or any kind of text, even though it can. It’s optimized for turning a digital photo into something you can hold in your hand: a photo with the same color brilliance and tactile feel that used to come from a film-based camera when the Fotomat store called to say your pictures were ready (remember them?). The first step in accomplishing this is to have a full range of color cartridges — 6 to be exact — ready to combine to form the wide spectrum of colors needed. Most so-called color photo printers top out at the basic color set — a Magenta, a Yellow and a Cyan plus Black. That can give you decent color prints, but what you want is great color prints. So the XP-8500 uses an additional Light cyan and Light Magenta to better the color palette. And since each cartridge is self-contained, when one needs replacing, that’s all you take care of. Cartridges pop into their respective slots (color coded) easily and swiftly — anyone spending a few minutes going through Epson’s startup procedure won’t fail.
Now the other thing needed is the photo paper, which comes in varying sizes depending on what you are printing. 8×10″ borderless prints are the upper end of what can be made, but the more desirable “snapshot” 4×6″ prints can be cranked out too, and as fast as about 10 seconds can go by. Being designed with printing photos in mind means that the XP-8500 can have dedicated trays for photo prints as well as for CD/DVDs. There’s even a rear-mounted loading tray for speciality media — this can handle various sizes of paper like envelopes) and A4 and 8×10″ sizes (of course you can print text — print as much as you’d like). This printer doesn’t play favorites either — should you want to print the smaller 3×5″ or the larger 5×7″, you can (and as mentioned before re: the 8×10″ – all these sizes come in borderless too).
Next it’s about how to get the digital image into the printer so it can be turned into analogue reality. But backing up for a moment, the top of the XP-8500 lifts up to reveal a scanner bed. This can accommodate a sheet of up to A4 size (being slightly bigger than 8×10″), and should it be a photo being copied, well obviously it can then be printed. That scan was saved to a USB thumb drive in the same-named slot, which can of course be used to provide digital images for printing. With stand-alone digital cameras in mind, there’s also a SD card slot for accepting media for printing as well. The final method for getting a digital image over to the printer is by using an Epson app (free/iOS & Android) to send it. So the printer has to have Wi-Fi. So it does, using the 2.4GHz waveband. No surprises there.
Now for those preferring to run the printer their computer, as opposed to using the LCD screen and menu selections directly from the printer), connecting via USB is how you’d do it. Software is provided to get the printing up to speed for PC’s (Macs get it directly from Epson’s website).
With printing speeds all out of proportion to its small size, the Expression Photo XP-8500 Small-in-One All-in-One Printer retail of $249.99 seems far too reasonable. But who cares about that? The only thing to care about is that all those pictures shot can now be turned into photos to share with your world.