Kodak ESP 9 All-In-One
At a Glance
Kodak's ESP 9 All-In-One color inkjet multifunction offers a number of advanced features for its higher price. Unfortunately they cannot compensate for the machine's painfully slow performance and other shortcomings.
A yawning gulf exists between how fast Kodak says the ESP 9 is, and how fast it actually was in our tests. Plain-text pages limped out at a rate of 6.4 pages per minute (ppm), compared to Kodak's claim of 32 ppm. Graphics fared even worse, managing a moribund 2.1 ppm compared to Kodak's promise of 30 ppm.
Lower your expectations for the print quality, too. On plain paper, text looked a bit foggy, and the ink was gray rather than black; photos suffered from a yellowish cast (in the case of landscapes) or ghastly coloring (in the case of fleshtones). Printing the same photos on Kodak's own paper fixed most of these problems.
It's too bad about the performance, because the ESP 9 has some neat features. Most notably, its backlit touchscreen control panel (paired with a 3-inch color LCD) is a pleasure to use: well designed and intuitive. It also has great connectivity: USB, Ethernet, and Wi-Fi; slots for CF, MS, SD, and xD; and a PictBridge port. Kodak sells a Bluetooth adapter for $50. Automatic duplexing is standard. The paper handling is the only pedestrian aspect: the main input tray takes only 100 sheets, though it's supplemented by a 40-sheet photo tray for 5-by-7-inch and smaller media. There's also a 35-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF).
Kodak's inks are the lowest-cost by far. The machine ships with one black (K) cartridge and a unified, five-color cartridge that contains cyan, magenta, yellow, and photo-black inks, as well as a clear protective coating. Replacements cost $10 for black and $15 for color. Kodak doesn't publish page yields, but using the industry-standard ISO test pages, the company claims a 2.3-cent cost for a plain-text page, and 6.9 cents for a color page.
If you're going to spend this much money on a multifunction, it had better be good. Kodak's ESP 9 All-In-One may be nicely designed and economical to operate, but it's incredibly slow. Canon's Pixma MP980 costs about the same and has its own quirks, but it's a much better bet in this price range.