Now priced at around the £80 mark on Kodak's online shop (although you can shave another £5 or so from this tag by shopping around), the Kodak ESP 5250 sets out to show that the older printers aren't necessarily inferior. Given its age, it's surprisingly how seamlessly the Kodak slips into place alongside other Kodak printers such as the Kodak ESP C310 and the Kodak ESP Office 2170, giving much newer printers from rival manufacturers a run for their money.
That this printer can compete with the best is most notable in the Kodak ESP 5250's LCD screen. Not only is this large (2.4in), but it can be folded up and down so that you can get a good view of the screen regardless of whether you're sitting in front of the printer or standing over it. The control panel itself is fully featured but not overdone, with a clear navigation system aiding access.
As with many newer printers, the 5250 uses a two-tank ink system, and as ever this Kodak proves good value in terms of running costs – if anything, its black ink costs are the cheapest of the lot.
Print times (from 10.9ppm and 4.1ppm in draft and normal modes, to 1.8ppm at best) on the Kodak ESP 5250 are almost identical to those of the newer models. None of the Kodaks are at all fast, and this is one area where the company really needs to work. The colour output is inferior to that on the newer models, and although the speed seems better – the figures of 7.5ppm and 3.4ppm on draft and normal respectively are superior to those of both the C310 and 2170 – the actual quality of the colour palette is inferior. The shades and tints aren't as realistic, while banding is more of a problem. Output on photo paper is very decent, but both the C310 and 2170 are better choices for colour graphics.
The scanning component is good, with good image reproduction and a nice interface. The lid, though, is rather rigid, which will make it hard to use the Kodak ESP 5250 for thicker material, such as books. As with the C310, there's no Automatic Document Feeder either.
The Kodak ESP 5250 comes with the latest in Kodak's software, so, in a nice touch, you can plug it in alongside one of the newer printers without having to install different software. This consistency of approach is very commendable, and is carried through to the instructions – as with the newer models, you get a slick miniature manual alongside a bold quick installation sheet.
In some areas the Kodak ESP 5250 may at first appear basic. The input (up to 100 normal sheets of paper or 20 sheets of photo media can be used, just as with the ESP C310) and output trays aren't physically separated, so the printed pages will be dropped into virtually the same tray that you use to store the paper. In practice this simple approach works well, and we never find that the paper from the trays got mixed up. If you want a printer with separate input and output trays, look for Kodak's ESP C310.
The Kodak ESP 5250 comes with many of the same connectivity options as much newer machines. Besides the USB 2.0, you also get Wi-Fi. However, this feature only covers 802.11b and 802.11g – no support is included for the newer and faster 802.11n. You are still able to print to the 5250 from iPhones, Apple iPads, iPod touches or BlackBerry devices. As with the newer models, Kodak's free download, Pic Flick, enables this, so it's not strictly speaking a hardware feature. A memory card drive is included, although there's no PictBridge port for direct printing. Since you'd think this feature was more useful for home rather than business users, it is a bit strange that neither the 5250 or C310 offer this, yet the office-friendly 2170 does. Regardless, the 5250 has a decent range of connection options.
The Kodak ESP 5250's 1,200dpi resolution isn't noticeably inferior to those of the newer models, and the quality of the text is very much comparable. Not as dark as on the 2170, it strikes a nice balance between being overdone and too light. Even in the normal mode, the characters are reasonably well delineated, although even the best mode doesn't produce results that get close to the best inkjets on the market. Most users will be satisfied with the output though.
Visually, the Kodak ESP 5250 is close in design to the newer C310. Not exactly a small printer, it nonetheless has the same modest black casing, once again enlivened by the dash of gold running along the front. The Kodak ESP 5250 isn't complemented by a matching gold circle around any of the buttons, unlike the C310. Otherwise, though, the design is similar – a sign that Kodak's printers and MFDs have carried a certain style for some years now.