Kodak ESP 5 All-In-One

A decent family multifunction

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Kodak ESP 5 All-In-One
  • Kodak ESP 5 All-In-One
  • Kodak ESP 5 All-In-One
  • Kodak ESP 5 All-In-One

Pros

  • Decent print quality, great scan quality, very efficient with consumables

Cons

  • Some software issues, vertical banding apparent in photos

Bottom Line

Although there are cheaper home inkjet multifunctions, the Kodak EasyShare ESP 5 provides a decent all-round experience for its price. Its focus on print and scan quality allows for good results, particularly with photos.

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Kodak's latest addition to its EasyShare range of home multifunctions is the ESP 5. With a clear focus on families, the unit combines ease of use with adequate print quality for its mid-range price point.

Both the ESP 3 and ESP 5 depart from Kodak's usual white chassis as found in its top-end EasyShare 5500 All-In-One, opting instead for an understated black fascia resembling an Epson unit. Build quality is adequate for a mid-range multifunction, with no real chance of breaking hinges or trays. Kodak's clever dual-purpose input/output paper tray on the front is quite functional. It eliminates the need for a rear paper tray, minimising the overall space needed for the ESP 5.

This multifunction features a colour LCD screen for photo printing and navigating menus, as well as a PictBridge port for direct printing and a multi-card reader that supports MemoryStick, xD, SD and CompactFlash. Connection is via USB, although an optional Bluetooth adapter can be added.

The ESP 5 uses a two-cartridge system. Rather than using four inks over two cartridges, the ESP 5 uses six — a single black cartridge and a five-ink colour cartridge. Apart from the usual cyan, magenta, and yellow, the colour cartridge adds an additional black ink well and a clear ink well to print a protective layer over photos. Expect the multifunction to run at a cost of around 11.1c per page during regular colour use; a remarkable effort given that most competitors cost close to 20c.

Although the provided AiO Home Centre software package works well on Windows Vista, we encountered several problems running the software under Windows XP, with its photo-editing component crashing several times.

Printing speeds aren't fantastic. However, given it is a home multifunction, speed isn't a high priority. Our tests showed that both mono and colour A4 pages will print at an average 13.3 pages per minute in draft quality, slowing to 3ppm at normal quality. 4x6in photos will print in 38sec, and A4 photos will average 2min 12sec. These aren't the fastest speeds we've seen for this price point, but the ESP 5 is adequate for printing small photos for everyday family use.

We were somewhat surprised at the ESP 5's printing quality. Although better photo quality can be attained from the slightly pricier Canon PIXMA MP610, the ESP 5 manages to do a commendable job. Text doesn't have the laser-like quality that can be found in business-focused inkjets, but it's clear and readable. Colour is consistent and largely accurate in graphical elements, creating decent pictures and colours on standard plain paper for school work and business documents.

Unfortunately, there are some flaws with the quality of photos. 4x6in photos reveal a quite a bit of vertical banding — particularly in dark-to-light gradients. This is much less noticeable in A4 photos, but it is still evident. Most colours are accurate, although reds and blacks aren't as defined as they could be.

The ESP 5's scan quality is quite surprising. Our test scans showed an even better balance of colours than HP's top-end Photosmart C7280, with even contrast and colours across the image. For photo scanning, the ESP 5 is one of the best multifunctions we've seen, with good reproduction of images for reprinting and digital use.

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