Given all Kodak's ESP models use the same print engine, there's a surprising amount of variance between the ESP3250 and the ESP5250, with all the times in favour of the more expensive model. The plain paper prints are all within a couple of seconds of each other, with the five-page text print taking 1:04, a speed of 4.69ppm, the 20-page large document taking 3:57, or 5.06ppm and the five-page text and graphics document coming in at 1:42, which is 2.94ppm - all reasonable speeds for an inkjet all-in-one, but nothing monumental.
It's when you look at the copy and photo print times, things get a bit different. While the ESP 3250 completed a single page colour photocopy in 46 seconds and a 15 x 10cm photo from SD card in 58s, the ESP 5250 took 32s and 43s, respectively. These represent speed increases of 43 per cent and 35 per cent, one reason at least for paying extra for this machine.
Output quality is as good as from any of the ESP machines, with generally sharp black text, though on this machine it suffered from under-inking, which meant that some of the paper fibres showed through and gave the text a dark grey feel, rather than a dense black.
The same problem is noticeable in areas of block colour, where the white paper fibres lighten the colour shades, which could use more ink. This is exacerbated in a colour copy. Surprisingly, our standard photo print is not as good as from the ESP 3250 and in this sample, some of the dark colour detail is lost to black. Otherwise, colours are pretty accurate and photo prints on Kodak paper - there are three different grades available - are well above average.
Kodak makes impressive claims for the economy of this and all its other all-in-one printers. The headline figure of 7p per 15 x 10cm print can be achieved, by using the Photo Value Pack, which provides paper and ink for 180 prints, but the standard photo paper is very thin and you may want to go for the Premium offering instead, which takes the cost per print to 10p. Still pretty good.
Plain paper prints also come out cheap, with an ISO black print costing 2.65p and a colour one costing 5.46p, both including 0.7p paper costs and VAT. These compare favourably with other machines at similar price points. For example, the £120 Lexmark Interpret S405, which costs 4.7p for a black page and a whopping 11.83p - twice the cost of the ESP 5250 - for colour, based on the same cost calculation.
When you compare the ESP 5250 with its immediate predecessor, the ESP 5, you can see you pay highly for the wireless connection. You lose CompactFlash and USB/PictBridge sockets and have to live with a considerably smaller LCD screen. At Internet prices you pay the best part of £30 extra for the privilege, too. Ultimately you'd get better value buying the ESP 5 and adding a separate wireless adapter.