Epson SureColor P400 Review

Epson SureColor P400 Review
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The Epson SureColor P400 isn’t just a run-of-the-mill photo printer – it’s a prosumer large-format printer and one of the top photo printers you can buy for under $1,000. With gallery-quality photo production and support for fine-art printing, the Epson SureColor P400 earns the Top Ten Reviews Silver Award and is our top pick for advanced amateurs and professionals on a budget who want an affordable way to print professional-grade photos.

Whether printing 4 x 6 snapshots or full-page high-resolution images, the SureColor P400 produced some of the best print samples we saw in our photo printer review. Judged on their own, all of its test prints were superb; its color quality is exceptional, with vibrant colors and sharp detail, but it is especially good at handling subtle gradients and flesh tones.

Even though its prints are high quality, the SureColor P400 consistently took second place in blind rankings next to the Gold Award winner. When compared side by side, the SureColor P400’s prints look excellent, but the color is ever so slightly muted. It’s only noticeable in a direct comparison, and even then it’s a very minor distinction.

Print speed is decent, with 4 x 6 photos printing at an average rate of 88 seconds each. In our testing, full-page printing was just as good – the photos had the same high-quality colors and flawless finish but printed at an average speed of 194 seconds per 8.5 x 11 photo, lagging a full 40 seconds behind the top performer. For a high-quality photo printer, this is all perfectly acceptable.

The printer’s superb color quality is likely due to its distinctive ink blends, which include red and orange inks in addition to the usual cyan, magenta and yellow. Two varieties of black ink, photo black and matte black, add to the images’ richness, while photos get an extra polish, literally, thanks to a cartridge of gloss optimizer. While technically not ink, this cartridge adds a protective glossy coat, filling any variances in inking for a consistent surface and providing a protective layer against smudges and moisture. The cost of ink is nearly impossible to estimate on a per-photo basis since every image is different, but it works out to $1.29 per milliliter, making it the most affordable ink in our review.

This printer is also a good choice for anyone who wants to do more than basic photo printing. In addition to accepting the usual cut sheets of paper, the SureColor P400 comes with an attachment for roll paper, and it supports the widest variety of specialty media we saw, printing on watercolor paper, canvas and fine-art paper up to 1.3 millimeters thick. As a large-format photo printer, it’s especially well-suited to making wide prints, printing borderless images on paper up to 13 x 19 inches in size.

Weighing in at 27.1 pounds, this is in no way a portable printer. When closed, the hefty printer measures 24.5 x 12.8 x 8.6 inches, but when open with both the output tray and manual page feeder extended, it’s considerably larger. As a stationary printer, there is no battery power option. What it lacks in portability, it makes up for in versatility. To support the many specialty media options available, the printer comes with a detachable roll feeder and a detachable rear-feed tray. If you want to print onto disc labels, there is also an included tray for CDs and DVDs.

One feature that would make the P400 easier to use is a display to go with its six control panel buttons. Since it doesn’t do standalone printing, it doesn’t need one for photo previews, but built-in displays usually double as control panels. With no display, using the P400’s physical controls feels like a bit of a guessing game, with only a few indicator LEDs providing feedback as you try to connect to Wi-Fi, change out ink cartridges, and switch the paper feed to roll paper and back.

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With so much focus on high-end photo printing, the SureColor P400 doesn’t have much support for casual users. While you can print from mobile devices over Wi-Fi using Epson’s iPrint app, there is no PictBridge support for printing from cameras directly and no support for external storage devices. Everything you print needs to be from a PC or mobile device. For photographers and designers who spend as much time editing images as they do shooting them, this is ideal, but the lack of standalone printing may be a hindrance for some.

The SureColor P400 is covered by Epson’s standard one-year warranty. Tech support can be reached via phone, email and live chat, and support materials include an online user manual and answers to frequently asked questions.

The Epson SureColor P400 is one of the best photo printers you can buy, earning high marks for photo print quality. It’s a large-format printer that can print on a variety of materials, including photo paper, canvas and watercolor paper. Its gallery-quality prints are more than enough to make up for flaws like opaque control panel functions and slow photo printing.

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