For those with tight desk space in the office, often times an all in one printer solution is a practical answer to the problem. All in ones have been around for over a decade and usually the bad wrap was that if one of the features failed, you couldn’t use the entire unit. So, if the scanner failed, for instance, then the printer was useless to you as well. Luckily, as the all in one printer design matured, much of that main problem has been engineered away. The results are that all in one printers are good solutions that are very affordable, offer nominal performance, and save a ton of space. They’re not perfect, mind you, but for the price it’s hard to argue a demand for perfection. Just performance. This is could have been true with the Kodak ESP 5 All in One printer, if it had been built a little more robustly.
The ESP 5 is Kodak’s entry level all in one printer. And unfortunately, even entry level users will find that it’s design features are fairly flimsy and deficient. The problem is that although the design looks sleek and clean, the construction is made from cheaper plastic which gives the ESP5 a delicate feel that makes users worry that giving the ESP5 any real heavy duty work will cause failure.
The 3” LCD screen is rather bright and easy to read and an excellent improvement over previous models that simply didn’t have one. The buttons are easy to use and navigate through making the printing, scanning and copying process easy to accomplish.
In addition, the scanner/copier portion of the ESP5 is meant solely for single pages. Great for scanning or copying single documents, but if the user wants to copy portions of a thick book or magazine, the user will have to break the back and remove each page to scan – not a valid option for the library or after borrowing a book. Also, the quality of the scans are acceptable, but could be better. The white balance is off – yielding a scan which is gray in the white areas, meaning a calibration may be in order from the very beginning.
One nice thing is the sheet feeder takes up to 100 sheets of paper but has very little room for anything other than 8 ½ x* paper. And we found that the catch ramp which the printed paper is caught isn’t long enough and after one or two prints, they fall to the ground.
Printing wise, the ESP5 allows for direct printing from XD/SD and compact flash cards, as well as direct connecting to digital cameras. I found the ESP5 to be of pretty good quality and for draft copies of photos, its okay. But I’d be looking to invest in a quality photo printer for images you want to frame as the colors simply aren’t as bold as the dedicated photo printers like Epson or Canon makes.
One thing that we hoped Kodak would have done is have dedicated ink cartridges for simple replacement as each color depletes itself. Unfortunately, the design calls for one black cartridge and a 5 in one all color cartridge. This means that if you run out of one ink, you can just swap it out for a replacement unless you want to simply waste the rest of the ink in the cartridge. And frankly, inkjet printing ink is expensive enough without tossing it for little reason other than design convenience.
What we’d like to see is an accessory page feeder which would allow for multiple page scans or a retractable top to address the book scan issue. Other than that, the Kodak is an affordable all in one which will get the every day job done. But for presentations and for copies that count, there are plenty of other options that there which offer far better performance for a little more money.
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