Kodak’s latest all in one printer, copier and scanner is a compact, attractive looking, machine that combines a scanner, copier and photo quality printer combining low ink costs with good photo output and nice scans if you just need relatively small sized scans of your flat originals.
The ESP 5250 sits between Kodak’s ESP 5 and ESP 7 all-in-one models, in the range. It also continues Kodak’s policy of charging that little bit more for the machine and less for the ink, with Kodak claiming the overall cost of ownership, over a year, can enable a saving on ink of around £75.
The 5250 is a neat and compact, black liveried device featuring a nice 2.4-inch LCD screen and a large, clearly buttoned control panel graces the top. The 100-sheet paper feed tray sits in the front of the device, so paper must be loaded upside down; it is fed into and back out on top of the unprinted, waiting paper.
Paper guides can be moved to adjust for paper of varying sizes easily, though if you put photo paper on top of plain paper, the 5250 had a tendency to drag in the plain paper along with the photo paper, which is very frustrating indeed, so only one type of paper at a time.
The print head and dual, single black and combined five-colour pigment based inks slot home easily into a removable print head carriage, which sits beneath the scanner/copier platen. Once in place, the 5250 primes the ink and will print an automatic head alignment sheet.
The software’s easy to install (I tested the printer on my G5 Intel Mac laptop) and once up and running, connecting to my Wi-Fi network proved a simple case of selecting the connection method on the 5250’s colour screen, entering the password and that was it. Almost as easy as connecting via the USB connection, and like the other ESPs I’ve tested in the range, this makes for a refreshing change.
The direct print control panel is simply laid out and the menus are clear and easy to follow on the colour screen allowing copying, printing and scanning as a standalone device, or you can control the device from your computer.
The ESP 5250’s supplied software drivers are simple enough to follow, the print dialogues for the printer are easy to understand and the 5250 can automatically select the print quality depending on the paper type used. This makes the machine undoubtedly easy to use for the less technical minded users out there, but you do have manual controls over print quality too, within the printer’s advanced driver options.
Kodak’s Ultra Premium Photo Paper being the best quality paper for best photo prints but you can “force” the printer to use the higher quality settings, though more ink will be used and it may not provide the best result depending on the exact media types.
As with other ESPs in the range, Kodak’s Dot Replacement print mode allows for better quality output on specific paper types, that is providing you don’t want to print borderless, as disappointingly and like the other ESPs, Dot Replacement does not support borderless printing. However, print quality on the better quality papers is superb, Dot Replacement or not, but it’s a shame you cannot access this setting for borderless prints.
One frustration of that Dot Replacement mode is where I could select to use the Dot Replacement technology, even with the incorrect paper setting (borderless) and it is only as the paper was fed into the printer that the error was picked up by the machine’s paper sensors and print driver. At this point it would alert you to the incorrect paper selection and abort the print process spitting the paper out untouched.
However, print quality on other, lesser, photo papers drops quickly and even the Premium Photo paper prints with distracting visible dots, akin to blotchy white coloured noise, within the plain paper prints. Printing text documents or graphics is excellent though, text looking very "laser-like" and graphics packing a colour punch.
Copy quality left something to be desired as copied images are copied with blocky looking darker areas, such as shadows. Text is well copied though but scanning photos, at photo quality settings provides prints that are full of filed in detail and odd, magenta-looking colour casts.
In terms of print times, the claimed print speeds of 29 colour pages per minute or a 6 x 4-inch photo in around 29-seconds are only possible at the lower quality settings on offer. An A4 borderless photo print took 13-minutes while a 6 x 4-inch photo, also borderless, took 2 minutes and 39 seconds. Use the Dot Replacement technology, and the print length for a 6 x 4-inch print leaps to 7 minutes and an A4 top quality print to around 17-minutes.
Scan speed and quality, like all the timings here, will be dependent on the system you are using. However I was pleasantly surprised by the scanning which took just over 6 minutes to scan (using Wi-Fi) an A4 photo at 600ppi creating a 89MB file. Scan quality is good (up to optical 2400ppi) with faithful colours and good detail.
The scanner and copier is also very quiet as is the printing, though the printing getting ready to do its stuff, prior to a print say, is a tad noisier.
But there is one more possible clincher, the cost of ownership. The ESP 5250 costs a penny shy of £130, so not particularly cheap compared with some similar Lexmark models on the market. But the inks are £6.99 for the black cartridge and £9.99 for the five-colour ink tank, which is where Kodak claims you’ll get the savings it claims.
Kodak claims this provides the "lowest ink replacement costs in the industry" and can save you around "£75 a year" compared with similar products from other manufacturers. Allowing the printer’s systems to control the print quality help these savings but you get inferior prints. Set-up the printer manually you use more ink than Kodak’s figures would suggest. So the cost of ownership varies on how satisfied you are with the 5250’s print quality on lower specified papers and all auto settings. Kodak’s figures show a black document will cost 1.6p per page, a 6 x 4-inch photo will cost 6.4p per print and colour document will cost 4.8p per page.
The Kodak ESP 5250 is a nicely made and easy to use all-in-one device, the low ink cost is important in your purchase consideration, even if you see cheaper machines on the market, compare ink costs as well. Some manufacturers' devices cost less than a new set of inks for the same machine.
Print quality is good and so is the scan quality, copies are just okay though. The ease of set-up impressed me, particularly the wireless printing which took only a few minutes. It’s a shame the printer is much slower than the claimed speeds Kodak use, at least for a reasonable photo print and it is also frustrating you can’t use Dot Replacement on borderless prints. Nevertheless, this is a reasonably accomplished all-in-one device worthy of close consideration.