The Kodak ESP 7 colour 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 Kodak ESP 7 has some nice features for home users. Connectivity includes USB, ethernet, and Wi-Fi. Kodak sells a Bluetooth adaptor. 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 Kodak ESP 7's 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 Kodak 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 3in colour 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, and the Kodak ESP 7 doesn't disappoint on this score.
Cheap ink doesn't help if the output is disappointing, however. On plain paper, the Kodak ESP 7 prints text that is acceptably crisp, albeit charcoal rather than black. Flesh tones in photos look gray and ghastly. Kodak's own photo papers correct 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 Kodak ESP 7 is painfully slow, producing text speeds of 6.7 pages per minute and graphics speeds of 2.3ppm on our tests - slower than average, and nowhere near Kodak's claims of 32ppm for text and 30ppm for graphics.
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