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Kodak claims the same speeds for the ESP 7 as for the ESP 9, at 32ppm for black and 30ppm for colour. Both of these are draft speeds and even then we find it hard to envisage a document that will print that quickly. The best we saw was 5.04ppm for a 20-page black document, which took 3:58 to complete and 2.03ppm for colour, where our five-page print took 2:28. Duplex print slowed the machine down further, though the wait between printing front and back sides is shorter than on, for example, a Canon PIXMA.
Prints themselves are very similar to those from the more expensive machine, so black text is sharp and clean cut, while solid colour is reasonable, though with some mottling. Black registration over colour is generally good, though there is slight haloing.
Photo prints are quicker, relatively, than plain paper prints and offer good print quality, with well-defined foreground detail, some noticeable detail in shadows and good quality fountain fills in skies. Colour photos from SD card and PictBridge camera were also good, showing natural colours and high levels of foreground detail.
Noise levels, which are a problem with the ESP 9 for the number and intensity of them, are reduced in number on this machine, because of the lack of an ADF. If anything, though, they are slightly louder - we measured peaks of 68dBA - probably because the scanner mechanism isn't buried under a lid with an Automatic Document Feeder on top of it.
Since it uses the same print head and ink cartridges as its bigger sibling, you might expect page costs to be identical. For black print, this is true, because the cheapest price we could find for the cartridge is the same as for the ESP 9. However, the colour cartridge has gone up a few pence, so the colour page cost has also increased.
Even so, costs per page of 2.44p for black and 2.97p for colour are still extremely good, with the colour cost being way below that of most other inkjet all-in-ones. You can also balance photo print cost with quality, by selecting from three different grades of photo paper.
The ESP 7 is quite a bit cheaper than its bigger sibling and although it lacks the ADF, touch control panel and fax facilities, in all other respects it's a very similar machine. As a home office all-in-one, it performs well, if not that quickly. Running costs are commendably low, which is always a factor in the purchase of an inkjet, and print quality, while not the best on the block, is more than passable.
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