Variable print quality; single colour cartridge
Network scanning; easy to use
There was a time when the word Kodak was synonymous with film photography. However, a bunch of Johnny-come-latelys‚ from the world of consumer electronics have decimated the film business and forced Kodak to reinvent itself in the world of digital media.
The ESP5250 is part of Kodak’s all-in-one printer range and delivers USB and Wi-Fi connectivity with printing directly from SD, MMC and Memory Stick media.
Installation was straightforward, although the need to load a bunch of extra software, other than the printer driver, is getting tiresome. This doesn’t only apply to Kodak. The OS X printing system supports plenty of extensibility – there’s no need for extra software.
We installed drivers manually as Kodak doesn’t hook into the automated printer installation that’s part of Snow Leopard.
The ESP5250 uses two ink cartridges – one black and one that combines cyan, yellow, magenta and black in a single cartridge. This makes it easy to change cartridges but it also means that inevitably some ink will be wasted. When one colour is exhausted from the colour cartridge the entire cartridge needs to be replaced.
We connected to the ESP5250 by both Wi-Fi and USB and threw a bunch of different jobs at it, including photo printing to both Kodak’s matte stock and generic glossy stock, graphically intense pages like print-your-own theatre tickets, and complex documents from Pages.
Quality was very much a mixed bag. When we printed out our theatre tickets on to plain paper there was some very obvious bands where graduated colour wasn’t well rendered and showed obvious streaks.
Printing of photos fared better. On both matte and glossy paper our suite of test images looked clear, although a close inspection of the output to Kodak’s own Premium Matte stock showed some unwanted lines on one of the images. The same problem wasn’t found when printing the same image, from the same Mac, onto glossy stock from another manufacturer. This didn’t happen with every image.
Our Pages document, printed over Wi-Fi, looked reasonable but when compared with the output of other, similarly equipped printers, was shown to not be up to scratch. Colours looked washed out. For example, the roof of a monastery we photographed in Europe looked a dull brown whereas the original image and output from other printers revealed the terracotta red of the actual roof. Other colours besides red looked washed out as well.
Paper handling was robust. We didn’t encounter any jams in our testing and running out of paper is easily handled. We simply reloaded the single paper tray and hit the OK button on the control panel. There’s no option for duplexing with this model, although that’s available in higher-end units from Kodak.
Part of the ESP5250’s appeal is that it works easily as a network scanner. We were able to scan using OS X Preview by choosing the Import from Scanner command and using the network scanners option. Quality was fine for business documents at 300dpi. At 1200dpi, the scanner’s maximum capability, quality was very good when scanning photos.
The ESP5250 can also be used as a photocopier and has a handy scaling feature so that smaller images can be expanded. It was easy to use but only worked by percentages – there was no way to tell the copier to automatically fit a 4 x 6in image to A4.
Australian Macworld’s buying advice
The Kodak ESP5250 is a competent performer for the price. It’s not suitable for those looking for photo-lab quality but will suffice if you’re after an inexpensive home printer.
This review originally appeared in the November issue of Australian Macworld magazine.
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