Kodak announces new multifunction inkjet printers

Kodak to produce full-size inkjet printers

Why it's taken so long

PC World US (sister publication to Australian PC World) recently met with Eastman Kodak to discuss the announcement and asked Bob Ohlweiler, marketing manager for inkjet systems, why the company had waited until now to produce full-size inkjet printers again.

He said: "Inkjet photo printing at home has only recently gone mainstream with consumers. Our entry into the home inkjet printing market makes a truly unique contribution by solving the three key problems with inkjet printing: high ink prices, photos that don't hold up to lab quality standards, and ease of use."

Here's how the company plans to address these issues.

Ink cartridges and pricing

Each new EasyShare AiO printer uses the same dual-cartridge system: one black and one five-ink color tank. The color cartridge features true photo black, cyan, magenta, yellow, and a protective ink designed to cover clear spaces on a print to provide uniform gloss and improved stain protection. Interestingly, the colors, and not just the black, are all pigment-based (as opposed to dye-based); pigments generally produce darker text and more vibrant and longer-lasting photos. A full-capacity color cartridge (which will retail for US$15) and full-capacity black cartridge (US$10 at retail) will be included with each printer.

Those replacement cartridge costs are quite competitive, and Kodak will also aggressively seek to lower the cost per photo by selling two types of value packs. Along with a full-capacity color cartridge, the US$18 Standard pack will include 180 sheets of standard 4-by-6-inch glossy paper (for a cost per photo of 10 cents), while the US$20 Premium photo pack provides 135 sheets of slightly thicker 4-by-6-inch glossy paper (for a cost per photo of 15 cents).

To put that into context, the current industry average cost per photo is about 25 cents. For instance, HP's US$36 02 Series 150-sheet Photo Value Pack includes the six custom cartridges required by models such as its full-size PhotoSmart D7160 printer, for a per-photo cost of around 24 cents. Canon says that its CL41/CL52 ink tanks combined with 50 sheets of Canon Photo Paper Glossy produce photos at a cost of about 28 cents each. For its compact P350 Photo printer, Lexmark's US$29, 100-sheet 4 X 6" PerfectFinish Photo Printing Kit includes a #45 color cartridge and produces photos for about 29 cents each. Similarly, Epson's US$38 PictureMate 200-Series Print Pack produces 150 glossy 4-by-6 prints for about 25 cents each.

With Kodak's system, per-photo costs would rise that high only if you use its top-of-the-line, thicker, and more porous Ultra Premium paper. This paper is sold only on its own, in packs of 100, for US$21. You'd need to buy the US$15 color cartridge separately, which, on Ultra Premium Paper, produces 105 4-by-6 photos. Bottom line: Printing on Kodak's Ultra Premium Paper costs 35 cents per photo, while its value packs produce prints for 10 or 15 cents each--half the industry average.

For text, Kodak claims the individually available black cartridge can produce about 350 pages of normal mode text on a letter page (based on industry-standard 5 percent coverage). That comes to roughly 3 cents per page for ink costs alone.

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