Although its speed and print quality vary, the Kodak ESP 9250's low ink costs could be a reasonable trade-off for some users. People who work in more-demanding environments should consider the Canon Pixma MX870.
We breezed through the Kodak ESP 9250's wireless setup (USB and ethernet are also available). The layout of the front-panel controls, including a 2.4-inch colour LCD, is intuitive. However, the rubber buttons tended to wiggle when pressed, slowing operations that involved them.
The Kodak ESP 9250's paper handling includes a 30-sheet automatic document feeder for the scanner. The scanner lid telescopes about an inch to accommodate thicker material. A 100-sheet input tray takes most kinds of media, and the printer also has a second, dedicated tray for up to 40 sheets of photo paper. Sheets exit on to the lid covering the two input trays. Automatic duplexing works on both the PC and Mac.
Kodak's AiO Home Center software works on both computer platforms to take care of the all-in-one chores. The company also gives away Kodak Pic Flick, an app for printing photos directly from Apple iPhone, Apple iPod touch, and Apple iPad devices.
The Kodak ESP 9250's mediocre speed limits it to relatively light use in a small office or home. In our tests, at the default settings, text pages printed at a rather slow 4.6 pages per minute on the PC and 3.6 ppm on the Mac. The snapshot-size photos we printed on letter-size paper on the PC took about a minute apiece to print, while the near-full-page, high-resolution photo we printed on the Mac took nearly 3 minutes. Copy speeds were also slower than average, but scan times were faster than average.
Output quality fared better than speed. On plain paper, the Kodak ESP 9250's printed text looked black and crisp, with few flaws. We could not say the same for colour graphics, photos, and copies, all of which looked washed out and grainy, with a distinctly greenish bent. Printing the photos on Kodak's own glossy stock transformed them into truly high-quality prints. Monochrome copies and scans were impressively smooth and detailed. colour scans looked dark, with an orange cast that affected even white areas.
Kodak's cheap inks stand out in a market that bases its profit margins on selling the fluids at a premium: With the £6.99, 425-page black and £12.99, 420-page unified colour cartridges, you pay just 1.6p per page for text, and just over 3p for a four-colour page. Note, though, that with a unified colour cartridge you'll wind up wasting some ink, as colours rarely empty at the same rate.
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