Kodak EasyShare 5300 All-in-One
At a Glance
Kodak's new EasyShare All-in-One inkjet multifunction printers aren't the cheapest in their class, but when combined with the company's paper-and-ink packs, they tout the prospect of printing borderless 4-by-6-inch photos for as little as 10 cents eac--about half the industry average. I found that claim valid and the photo quality very good, though I noticed some muted colors and slight graininess.
I tested the $200 EasyShare 5300 All-in-One, which prints, scans, and copies. The company's All-in-One lineup also includes the $150 EasyShare 5100, which lacks an LCD screen, and the $300 Easy-Share 5500, which features 33.6-kilobits-per-second faxing with 100-sheet memory, and a 35-sheet legal-size automatic document feeder.
Each model has two USB ports for printing photos directly from a USB thumb drive or a digital camera. All of the EasyShare models have a 100-sheet input tray, a 20-sheet 4-by-6-inch photo-paper feeder, and a 50-sheet output tray. The EasyShare 5300 and 5500 add dedicated buttons for printing, copying, and scanning; media card readers; and pop-up LCD screens (3.0 inches and 2.4 inches, respectively) to make it easy to print without a PC if you wish.
The EasyShare 5300 supports Windows Vista, Windows XP, and Mac OS X. It comes with Kodak's Easy-Share photo management app, which makes light work of printing and scanning.
If you're using Kodak's paper, the nonprint side includes a watermarked code that a sensor in the printer reads to invoke the best print mode automatically. Another sensor determines whether you've inserted plain paper or glossy media, and adjusts print settings accordingly. In our speed tests the 5300 printed text pages at 6.2 pages per minute, far from the slowest we've seen but just about half the speed of Canon's $180 Pixma MP600, our current Best Buy. In printing plain-paper graphics at default settings and maximum-quality glossy 4-by-6 photos, the results averaged 2.1 ppm and 1.2 ppm, respectively--which is about average among recently tested inkjet MFPs.
Inks and Pricing
The EasyShare All-in-Ones use a pigment-ink system with one black-ink cartridge and one five-ink tank. (One of each comes bundled with the printer.) The latter tank supplies true photo black, cyan, magenta, yellow, and a protective coating that covers clear spaces on a print to provide uniform gloss and improved stain protection, according to the company.
Kodak sells two types of paper-and-ink printing packs. The $18 Photo Value Pack includes a full-capacity color cartridge and 180 sheets of 3-star, 48-pound-rated 4-by-6-inch glossy paper. Its claimed cost per photo is 10 cents. The $20 Premium Photo Value Pack provides 135 sheets of thicker, 4-star, 66-pound-rated 4-by-6-inch glossy paper, for a claimed cost of 15 cents per photo. (The star ratings are assigned by Kodak.)
Using the $18 Photo Value Pack and relying on the 5300's auto-detection system, I was able to print 205 photos before running out of ink. Because all photos have different levels of color, results will vary; but in my tests the company's claim of 10-cent prints held up. And, their thickness aside, I noticed little output-quality difference between Kodak's 3- and 4-star paper.
The company's 5-star, 74-pound-rated Ultra Premium Paper, used in our PC World Test Center photo evaluations, produced even better quality. Skin tones were spot on, though colors weren't as vibrant as we'd have liked.
In our plain-paper graphics tests, our judges rated the 5300's output as Fair due to some horizontal banding, though such banding isn't unusual for MFPs of this class. The 5300 produced well-formed text too, but characters often had dirty edges.
Kodak doesn't sell the Ultra Premium Paper in a value pack, unfortunately; it comes only in packs of 100, for $21. Also, you must buy the $15 color-ink cartridge separately, which on the Ultra Premium Paper produces 105 4-by-6 photos, claims Kodak.
Bottom line: Getting the highest print quality out of the 5300 costs about 35 cents per photo. But the 10- and 15-cent prints look pretty good too, and those ink prices may be hard to pass up.