It’s not often we get to test the first machine from a new supplier in an established market, but that’s the case with Kodak’s EasyShare 5300. This is a brand new all-in-one machine, using an ink-jet mechanism designed from scratch for Kodak’s entry into a product area dominated by makers who have been developing printers and all-in-ones for years.
First impressions of the EasyShare 5300 are good. Although it’s a substantial machine, its white and silver livery makes it look neat and modern. A Kodak-yellow key-line under the scanner lid compliments the EasyShare logo, which shows on the large, 76mm LCD display behind the control panel on the right-hand side.
In front of the display are 17, well-captioned buttons, arranged in groups and in varying sizes to indicate their importance. The Scan, Photo and Copy mode buttons are illuminated, so you know which is selected.
In the front panel are two slots for memory cards, between them taking all the common types, including the MicroDrive. Below that are two USB sockets, so you can, for example, install the optional Bluetooth adapter in one and still have the second available for connecting a PictBridge camera or a memory drive.
The paper tray can take up to 100 sheets of plain paper and has an inset in its top surface for a further 20 sheets of 15 x 10cm photo paper in an integral tray. You push in or pull out this tray to select between the two paper sources.
The all-in-one uses an external, block power supply which plugs into the back of the machine. Our review sample initially made a variety of unusual noises, but settled down as it bedded in.
Setting the EasyShare up involves lifting the main scanner section and clipping the permanent print head into place on its carrier. You then clip the black and colour cartridges into place. The colour cartridge contains five inks. The first four are cyan, magenta, yellow and black and the fifth is a transparent coating, given to all photos, to protect them from light and ozone. The separate black cartridge is used solely for printing text on plain paper.
There are two main pieces of software supplied with the machine: EasyShare and AiO Home Centre. Between the two of them they provide photo housekeeping and simple functions to print to and scan from the 5300. EasyShare itself offers basic photo editing and can be used to add simple effects.
Printing on the EasyShare 5300 is quite snappy, particularly when printing photos. A 15 x 10cm print takes around 45 seconds from either memory card or PictBridge camera and just over a minute from a PC onto an A4 sheet. Printing text onto plain paper is nowhere near as quick as Kodak claims though. It took 68 seconds to print our five-page test document, a speed of 4.4ppm, not 10.5ppm.
The amount of hype applied to print speeds is a scandal, not just for Kodak, but for all the main players. They need to come to an agreement to start again from scratch and quote print speeds for a standard page of text, printed in a normal print mode.
Print quality is reasonable, though there is noticeable feathering of black text on ordinary plain paper, which gives it a slight fuzziness. This is accentuated when printing text over a coloured background. The background colours don't always saturate the paper properly, either, so you can occasionally see uncoated paper fibres. A copy of our text and graphics page taken from the 5300’s scanner is closer to the original than from many all-in-ones, but the problems with text over colour are still there.