Kodak rates the hero 7.1 slightly faster than the hero 5.1, even though they both use ostensibly the same print engine. Here, the claim is 8.5ppm for black pages and 5.5ppm for colour. We didn't see either of these speeds under test, though the machine did manage 4.2ppm on our 5-page black text test, rising to 5.3ppm on the 20-page document. The five-page black text and colour graphics test gave 3.1ppm; none of these speeds is particularly impressive.
We also noticed some misfeeds from this particular unit, with printing starting two thirds of the way down the page and a kink in the paper above this, suggesting it didn't feed smoothly through the printer. This happened on two separate print runs, but was by no means consistent and is probably just a problem with this particular sample.
What is a more general difficulty is the way the printer automatically reduces the size of duplex page images. The printed page is reduced by around 10 percent when printing double-sided and although we can understand the reason for this, because of the paper handling requirements of the duplexer, we feel it should be made clearer in the printer's documentation. Our 20-page print, run as a duplex job, gave 3.3 sides per minute; better than most Canon printers, but not as good as recent Epsons.
The quality of prints from the machine is generally pretty good, with clean and well-formed text and a reasonable draft mode, though there is occasional mis-registration from one head pass to the next. Colour graphics are also bright and relatively smooth, though there's some banding and a copy from the flatbed changed some colours noticeably. Pale blue went to a light mauve, for example.
Photo reproduction is good, with natural colours and better than average levels of detail, though some is lost in shadowed areas. Photo prints took from 35s to 49s for a 15 x 10cm image, which is very respectable and 32s for an A4 colour copy from the flatbed is also acceptable.
This machine is a lot quieter when printing than the hero 5.1, coming out at 63dBA, when the cheaper machine is a full 3dBA louder, at 66dBA.
Kodak's cartridge prices have risen a bit recently, so it's not quite the good deal it used to be, but at 2.0p for an ISO black page, based on the high-capacity XL black cartridge, and 4.2p for an ISO colour page, running costs are still among the best you'll see.
The Kodak hero 7.1 is a mix of good and not so good. It's useful to have touchscreen control and a separate, powered tray for photo blanks. Duplex print is also worth having, though the reduction in page size is a continuing annoyance. In case you wonder about buying Kodak because of its US parent company’s filing for Chapter 11 protection, the UK arm has assured us this won't affect its business over here, or the continuing supply of consumables.