- Economical ink costs, automatic duplexer
- Very slow
- Subpar plain-paper print quality
Low ink cost and extras like Ethernet and autoduplexing can’t make up for slow print speeds.
The Kodak ESP 7 color inkjet multifunction printer beats the competition hands-down in ink costs. Unfortunately, it’s very slow, and its print quality on plain paper is underwhelming.
The smart-looking, shiny-black ESP 7 has some nice features for home users. Connectivity includes USB, ethernet, and Wi-Fi. Kodak sells a Bluetooth adapter for $50. You also get an autoduplexer for easy two-sided printing. On the front you’ll find slots for CF, MS, SD, and xD media, plus a PictBridge port. The legal-size main tray holds only 100 sheets of plain paper (plus many other media types), but it’s supplemented by a piggybacked photo tray that holds 40 sheets of 5-by-7-inch or smaller photo paper.
Even novices will find it easy to set up and operate the ESP 7. The “Start Here” brochure walks you through the installation, which is simple despite its many button clicks. The ink cartridges lock into place easily. The control panel features a 3-inch color LCD surrounded by nicely designed Menu, Zoom, and navigational arrow buttons. From the LCD, help screens walk you through copying, scanning, and printing, as well as basic troubleshooting and maintenance tasks.
Kodak’s main claim to fame is its low-cost ink. On the basis of the ISO standard tests for page yields, Kodak claims that a plain-text page costs just 2.3 cents, and a mixed text/graphics page costs 6.9 cents. Its color inks are united in a five-chamber cartridge (cyan, magenta, yellow, photo black, and a clear coating).
Cheap ink doesn’t help if the output is disappointing, however. On plain paper, the ESP 7 printed text that was acceptably crisp, albeit charcoal rather than black. Flesh tones in photos looked gray and ghastly. Kodak’s own photo papers corrected the latter problem, so you’ll need to buy that special paper to get the best results–and there go your ink savings.
Another drawback is that the ESP 7 is painfully slow, producing text speeds of 6.7 pages per minute and graphics speeds of 2.3 ppm on our tests–slower than average, and nowhere near Kodak’s claims of 32 ppm for text and 30 ppm for graphics.
We liked the low ink costs and extra features that the Kodak ESP 7 has to offer. Unfortunately, slow print speeds and subpar print quality make it difficult to recommend.