Kodak’s claim for the EasyShare 5300 that it had running costs 50% lower than competing products; priced around £200, the 5500 offers more or less the same feature set but boosted with more serious office additions. For a kick off, you get built-in fax capability, there’s a 35-page automatic document feeder (ADF) and a duplex unit for double sided printing.
The 5500 has a slightly bigger footprint than the 5300 and has the same style of relatively flimsy, articulated sliders for the paper supports. It has the same double-decker style, push and pull 100-sheet A4 plain paper feeder system with a 20-sheet capacity 6 x 4-inch photo paper feed system that protrudes from its front of the machine, the ADF sits on the top over the A4, flatbed scanner unit.
Dual memory cards slots are included and cater to all the major memory card formats currently available; you also get a pair of USB 2.0 ports below the card slots cater to PictBridge enabled cameras or you could plug in a USB drive of perhaps an accessory Bluetooth adapter for direct, wireless printing for example.
Although the 5500 is Bluetooth-enabled, something that would have made the 5500 really tempting would be proper, built-in WiFi capability (as supplied with the latest Lexmark AiO’s). While this almost certainly would bump up the RRP as result, the current and growing trend towards wireless connectivity will mean this might take the shine off of this model, at least for some.
Nevertheless, as with the 5300, the 5500 has nice and logical control layout, as are the menu systems displayed on the colour screen that provides a 2.5-inch screen but is, oddly, smaller than the 3-inch screen supplied with the 5300.
The 5500 use dual ink tanks featuring six pigment inks. You get one black ink tank and combined, five colour tank sporting cyan, magenta, yellow, another “photo” black ink and a clear protective ink. The print head is permanent and part of the printer (as opposed to part of the ink tanks) and uses 3840 high density nozzles of two sizes: 2.7 and 6.5-picolitres, providing scope for both good graphics and text and photos with a gross resolution of up to 2400dpi.
Kodak claims a 6 x 4-inch colour photo in 28 seconds, though the exact print speeds will vary on your system, but like the 5300, they’re quite optimistic, particularly if you want to bump up the output quality from the “standard” settings.
Like the 5300, a 6 x 4-inch borderless photo took me just over one and a half minutes, this using top-quality, Kodak ULTRA Premium glossy photo paper and the printer’s highest quality print setting, Getting to Kodak’s speed claims requires sacrificing quality for speed by using a more basic (read lower quality) print setting.
The 5500 auto detects the media type so takes the headache out of selecting the correct print setting for your needs but, as you may have guessed, you’ll need to take control of the output settings if anything other than the preset or standard quality is required. Once set up for top quality photo printing, the prints are very good, vibrant and, though slower to print than the Kodak claims, certainly do the system justice.
Scanning is fast and efficient but the supplied Kodak Home Centre software must be used, also the copying suffered from colour and print density variations, just like the 5300. Black and white copies are nicely neutral, while text quality is okay on good inkjet paper but on plain paper, text is slightly fuzzy though acceptable. Overall, then you have a user-friendly device that saves money over time on consumables and provides results that are well above average.
The Kodak Home Centre software offers basic and simple to use scanning and image editing plus document scanning of documents through the optical character recognition to create editable text documents. The software is basic and works well enough providing a set of six tabs for each task, such as email, organise images and print them. You also get options for slide show playback of images, burning CDs or DVDs of images and creating albums for your images.
Some of the creative projects on offer within the software include creating greeting cards for example, where a selection of styles and borders can be applied; favourite settings can be saved as favourites too. Thankfully, I found the software much less buggy than on my 5300 test.
The clip on duplex unit replaces the back panel on the 5500 and means you can print both sides of a document quickly and easily in one pass through the printer. Alongside the duplexer, you find the phone line socket (for faxing) and a handset socket plus another USB port for connection to a PC.
It’s black in cartridge costs £6.99 and a combined five-ink colour tank containing the cyan, magenta, photo black, yellow and special clear sealing inks costs £9.99. The net result is a claimed print cost of around seven pence per print, easily challenging “typical” high street print prices and, as with the 5300, a key selling point.
Low priced printing at home or the office is a real bonus and Kodak worked hard to develop this AiO, ink and paper system that works well and presses the print costs button too.
Looking at this device’s more office oriented kit, I feel Wi-Fi – as opposed to simple Bluetooth capability and that only via an optional accessory – would make this a must have AiO for the busy small office, but even without “proper” Wi-Fi, you still have a versatile and reasonably priced AiO system worthy of serious consideration.