We were originally scheduled to review Kodak's new Kodak Hero 4.2 All-In-One, but Kodak's decision to withdraw from the inkjets market means that a very capable little model will, sadly, no longer see the light of day. However, as an example of what Kodak might have been able to achieve, given time, we've taken another look at the company's Hero 7.1 instead. This model garnered considerable praise from us last year, and while it's certainly far from being best of breed, it'll continue to retain a certain charm for as long as stocks remain (Kodak will continue to sell toner and paper.) Read more inkjet printer reviews.
Not that it looks alluring, and its exterior is rather plainer than that of the ill-fated 4.2, for example, with the latter's swirl of curves. Indeed, the red line that runs around the model is the one sign of light in an otherwise rather uninspiring printer. Take a look at its feature set, though, and it starts to become rather juicier. For a start, you have that wealth of connectivity options. Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n support is pleasing, but ethernet support is provided as well. Admittedly the latter is unlikely to be of interest to home users, but those who might wish to fit this into an office environment will appreciate it. More pertinently, it can use Kodak's Pic Flick to make contact with mobile devices, and you even get Cloud support added – this was one of the pioneers in cloud printing when it first came out. See also: Group test: what's the best multifunction printer?
The Kodak has some convenient paper feeding facilities too, and the capable 100-sheet main tray is supplemented by a 40-sheet photo tray. The latter hovers above the main paper feed, and proves rather easier to load than the photo trays on many other MFPs. The Hero is also kitted out with USB and memory card slots. One area where the 7.1 remains far ahead of the newer 4.2 is in its touchscreen display. Whereas the 4.2 had been saddled with a small inflexible display that suffered from horrendous viewing angles, the 7.1 comes with a large and breezy 3.5in LCD that walks you through its many functions. We found it a very pleasant model to use without a PC attached.
The Kodak isn't the cheapest printer to buy in store, but it is much the cheapest to run and should over its lifetime save you a pretty packet. Indeed it is the loss of running costs such as those enjoyed by the Hero that make us lament the loss of Kodak as a printer maker. Just 1.7p for a page of black and a miserly 3p for colour is some going.
The Kodak isn't a special performer. It was consistently slower than many recent models. 11.4ppm at its fastest, it'll need to drop down to the middle 9.3ppm mode before you can get solid text. Even here, the output is legible rather than crisp. It's a very capable performer on graphics, producing colourful results in the middle 2.9ppm mode – again slower than many of its contemporaries. Photo paper brings out its best side, but it lacks the sparkling imaging of the Canon MX895. The scanning component is a success, with faithful results and good colours. The speeds are adequate.
NEXT PAGE: our original review of the Hero 7.1, from October 2011 >>