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Kodak hero 5.1 - Performance and Verdict

By Simon Williams

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

Kodak rates the hero 5.1 at a pragmatic 8ppm in black and 6ppm in colour, but our five-page black text print only managed a numerically appropriate 5.1ppm. When the printer was given its head on our 20-page document, though, the speed increased to 6.1ppm and in the very respectable-looking draft mode, we saw 8.8ppm.

The printer supports duplex print as standard and the pigmented inks Kodak uses mean the printer doesn't have to wait so long between sides, but even so our 20-side document took 3:16 to complete, a speed of 3.7 sides per minute.

The five-page black text and colour graphics document returned 3.6ppm, not that close to the 6ppm specified, but a single-page colour copy took just 31s and 15 x 10cm photos took between 38s and 50s, all impressive times for this class of machine.

A photo sent through Google Cloud Print printed as a borderless A4, but came through in a respectable time, once it started printing. However, remote prints need to move across various servers, so the start of print can be a minute or so after the e-mail is sent to the printer.

Kodak hero 5.1 - Cloud Print

Print quality, from the four Kodak inks, is generally good, with reasonably clean and clear black text and a remarkably well-formed draft mode. Colour graphics are zingy and unblemished, while photo prints are clear and bright with natural colours and good definition.

Duplex pages were inexplicably reduced in size, compared with single-sided ones and some headers were foreshortened, so you may need to check the header and footer margins on your double-sided documents.

As with previous Kodak machines, running costs are low, though black print comes out at 2.6p per page, which is slightly higher than, for example, the Epson Stylus SX235w, at 2.2p. When it comes to colour print, though, things are very different. The Kodak hero 5.1 manages 6.0p, while the Epson costs 10.7p.

Kodak hero 5.1 - Cartridges

Verdict

Kodak has consolidated its position well with the introduction of the hero range and although this is the entry-level machine, it's well specified with duplex print, card and PictBridge sockets and a decently sized LCD. Print quality is well above average and speed is also fair, so heros look set to continue squeezing other manufacturers in the crowded consumer all-in-one marketplace.

Bill 1

September 29, 2011, 3:37 pm

Hi,

What do make of the setup that Kodak has on its inks? I have the ESP 3250 and if the colour tank is empty, you must change it or you can't print a thing (even a black only document) Kodak's line on this is something like this: that even in printing black their printers use the colour tanks to make a black print, and this is done to ensure top quality images.
I have to say I have never come across that with any printer, and I'm tempted to think this is a bit of bull, but I could be wrong.

Further to this, once any cartridge is low on ink, you MUST change it when the warning comes up, or it won't print anything. There is no option to continue on printing once the warning to change the ink is displayed (say to the bitter end, when you actually see reduction in quality) I have never come across that on any other printer, either.

A cursory search on the internet will show you quite a few people who are disgruntled over these two issues, not only in the UK, but the States as well. Most of these people think that the "Print and Prosper" promise is a sham. And, that though ink prices are indeed low, this offset by the numerous requirements to change them. To be honest I am inclined to believe it, as this has been my experience.

I bought my printer, off the back the Trusted Reviews article a while ago. I always thought that perhaps that you hadn't known about these issues, as they would only show once the ink started to run out.

So, I was hoping you could answer a few questions:

- Have you guys come across these complaints on Kodak printers before?

- If so, do you think its a non-issue and it only affects a few and not the majority?

- And finally, I'm not being funny, but simply curious: Is it your policy run the printers all the way out of ink, as part of your tests and review?

I know that most of my comment is about the 3250, but I see the same cartridges are in this printer. So, as I'm looking for a wireless printer in the future, and a bit wary of anything that's a Kodak.

Thanks for your help,
Bill

Was

September 29, 2011, 6:40 pm

I've had the same issue on my Lexmark S505, i.e. the printer refuses to print once the colour ink cartridges go below a certain level. So even if I want to print in b&w, with a full black cartridge, if I don't have enough ink in the cyan, yellow and magenta cartridges, I can't. Which is ridiculous. Worse, even when I print v. little in colour, their levels seem to go down, which suggests even seemingly all b&w printouts use some of the colour...

It seems to me to be part of the reason many of these multi-function, feature-packed printers are so cheap. The companies make significant money back by monopolising and ensuring constant purchase of cartridges. So the problem isn't just restricted to Kodak.

Martin Daler

September 30, 2011, 11:54 am

Excellent questions. Especially, does TR actually earn it's keep by testing what the ink consumption really is, or does it just do the manufacturer's PR job for them by trotting out the manufacturer's figures?

The thing is, I know most of my (canon) ink goes nowhere near the paper. The printheads purge before and after each print run. I am a typical domestic user, so my print 'runs' are mostly just one or two pages at a time, then the printer is back to sleep again.

So TR - can I Trust your Review, or would I be just as informed (for print costs at least) if I just read the manufacturer spiel? Especially for a manufacturer which has set out its stall on low printing costs, I would really like to know. Did you do your homework?

Martin Daler

September 30, 2011, 12:33 pm

In reply to Was:
"So even if I want to print in b&w, with a full black cartridge, if I don't have enough ink in the cyan, yellow and magenta cartridges, I can't. Which is ridiculous. Worse, even when I print v. little in colour, their levels seem to go down, which suggests even seemingly all b&w printouts use some of the colour..."

I noticed that my Canon had consumed all it's colour cartridges, even though I had been printing exclusively b&w text documents (I was doing a dissertation - loads of text, zero colour - took ages...).

How does this happen? The printer has two black cartidges, one of which is for text, the other is for blending in colour prints. So it is not a case of finessing the black text with the admixture of a hint of colour. My guess is that the printer happily purges all five cartidges at every print run, and purged its way through three entire colour cartriges in the process. Surely this is under the control of the print driver software, which could (if they chose to) determine at the start whether a document contains any colour, and therby reduce unnecessary profit - er - I mean unnecessary wastage?

That is a question for Canon however. The question for TR - do you actually, honestly, rigorously test print consumption thoroughly to unmask the real usage? Or do you just take the easy route? I'm sure it is an awkward, time consuming job, isn't that why TR is in a job though? And given that running costs are close to every user's wallet, it is not a mere detail. Let's face it, most of the mainstream printer reviews now are just pixel-peeping and measurebating - they all do a broadly satisfactory job, and the differences come down to a ppm here or a touch of feathering there, seen under the microscope. It is nothing more than the manufacturer's spec spun out into prose. Before all of that I want to know one thing: what does it all cost, truly?

Was

September 30, 2011, 4:26 pm

These are really helpful comments, and I think TR should take heed. Otherwise the printer reviews on here really aren't much help.

Oh and another thing, TR please sort out the issue with your site that stops users staying logged in to post comments. And the missing account settings page. And find some way of email subscribing to a comment thread, or at least to replies to comments one posts.

Bill 1

October 4, 2011, 2:14 pm

Hi Simon,

When you have the time, could you please answer these questions? (please see my comment from last week)

- Have you guys come across these complaints on Kodak printers before?

- If so, do you think its a non-issue and it only affects a few and not the majority?

- And finally, I'm not being funny, but simply curious: Is it your policy run the printers all the way out of ink, as part of your tests and review?

Honestly, I am not trying to drum up trouble, nor am I accusing TR of anything underhanded. I believe these are fair questions, and I just was hoping you could take the time to answer them. And, if you don't think these are fair questions, then could you please explain why you feel that way?

Thanks,
Bill

Ed

January 7, 2012, 7:06 am

Hi All, Thanks for the questions. Here's the official word from Simon: "Most printers from most manufacturers use coloured inks when printing black. It’s certainly true of models from Canon, Epson and HP as well as Kodak. They do it, so they claim, to increase the density of black print, so that it’s a deep, dense colour. Printing exclusively black can use as much as 25 percent of the colours, while emptying a black cartridge. Printers that use combined colour cartridges, such as Kodak and lower end models from Canon, Epson and HP, are obviously more prone to wastage than those with individual cartridges for each colour. The manufacturers try and compensate by predicting the mix of graphics and images which will be typical for the market they’re aimed at (more photos in a home printer, more graphics or colour blocks in a small business one), but if you print a mix which veers away from what they’ve predicted, you may hit problems. With some printers, there’s a sound technical reason for preventing any print when a colour has run out. Particularly with piezo-electric printheads, as used by Epson and Brother, it can actually damage the head to operate it with no ink. Since colour is still used when printing black, all print has to be stopped when a single colour runs out. I don’t know what the reason is with the Kodak machines, as they use thermal printheads, but it may still be a technical issue. Before the release of the ISO standard on page yields, we used to run a set of ink tanks to exhaustion to determine page yields. This took a lot of time and paper and with the increase in the review schedule (now two printers a week) became impractical to continue. It would be of little value in determining how evenly the ink colours were used, anyway, because this is so dependent on the document mix. If you print a lot of landscape photos, full of green and blues, you’ll use different colours from printing a lot of portraits, using pinks and yellows. If your print mix means you’re wasting a lot of some colours, the best advice is to buy a printer which uses individual cartridges, next time you replace your machine." Hope that clears things up.

JIMS

January 19, 2012, 6:14 pm

I have a Kodak Hero 5.1. I get the same with the ink cartridges. When the change ink message shows I cannot use the printer until I change the ink cartridge. Having taken a supposedly empty cartridge apart I found it still contained plenty of ink. I can't help feeling this is a scam. I bought the Hero 5.1 to replace a Canon. The latter allowed printing after a change ink message and often gave several more weeks of trouble free printing. The upshot of this is that Kodak does not really have cheap printing costs at all. My Kodak Hero 5.1 is wasteful of ink, expensive and therefore not good environmentally either. My Canon was much more economical. Needless to say I will not buy Kodak again.

Dr Malcolm

January 5, 2013, 8:53 am

I bought the Hero 5.1 from Kodak. Its a complete load of crap!!!. The printing ink runs out after about 10 pages of A4 (monochrome), and no I am not a heavy user by any means.

I have attempted to contact Kodac via phone and e mail to complain, but customer service is diabolocal. No help whatsoever. its probably the worse purchase I have ever made, so you have been warned. I am scrapping the thing and getting another make. The guy at the computer shop near me says he has had plenty of complaints about these printers

treveor

December 23, 2013, 2:22 pm

Kodak Hero 5.1 completely failed within 6 months of infrequent use. Kodak refused to repair, replace or refund. Only offered a lower spec model which turned out to be damaged. Stay away from Kodak printers.

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