Kodak to Halve Cost of Home Printing?

The venerable photo imaging company aims to tackle rip off ink prices head on. Go Kodak go...

It’s certainly a well known fact that when it comes to the cost of ink, we’re all being ripped off. While printers can be picked up for a song, the actual running costs soon mount up as soon as those prints start flowing. Kodak says that dissatisfaction at the cost of home printing is the number one issue preventing home users from printing more and it aims to do something about it.

At a briefing yesterday, Kodak announced that its new inks, papers and printer will halve the cost of printing. European General Manager Jaime Cohen Szulc promised that Kodak’s was aiming to be, “a highly disruptive influence on the market, offering lab quality prints at half the cost”.

The new pigment based inks will be priced as £9.99 for a pack containing a single five-colour ink cartridge and £6.99 for a cartridge of black ink. Kodak claims that according to its tests for the same amount spent of its closet rivals you’ll be able to print 105 colour pages compared to 39, and 351 black and white pages against 143 for its competitors. Kodak says that currently, the minimum cost for a 6 x 4in colour print is 14p but its line of pigment based inks and porous papers will bring that down to only 7p per print.

As well as being cheap, Kodak claims that its prints will be durable, fade and scratch resistant. At the briefing, attempts to literally pour water on their claims proved ineffectual, with water spilt onto the sample photos wiping off with no ill effects.

Cohen Szulc explained that this had been achieved through the use of pigment inks the first time that these have been brought to market. Up to now, the issue with pigment inks was that they lacked vibrancy and that Kodak has drawn on its expertise from its long history with film to solve these issues. The sample pictures printed in front of us certainly seemed impressive enough.

Also key are the new porous papers it has developed, enabling the pigment inks to dry instantly, and in the printhead. Kodak would not be drawn on the dpi of the prints however, claiming that it didn’t want to get bogged down in a numbers game and that the quality of the prints would speak for themselves. Well, it would say that, wouldn’t it?

The new printer itself is an EasyShare 5300 All-in-One containing a scanner, memory card slots and a 3-in colour LCD display for viewing photos on cards. It employs only two cartridges – one black nad one, and one colour. Print speeds are claimed to be 32 pages-per-minute for black and white and 22 pages per minute for colour. Cohen Szulc said that Kodak had eliminated the draft mode favoured by its competitors and that the printer was fast enough to produce full quality prints without compromise.

The EasyShare 5300 will be available in May 2007 for a super low price of $199. When I suggested that naturally this would mean that it would cost £199 in this country, I was, amazingly, rebuffed – £100 I was told. I’ll believe that when I see it. The 5300 will be followed up in June by a version that will add fax capability, which apparently is still important.

Kodak has been involved in heavily restructuring itself since 2003 as the world moved from film to digital. Cohen Szulc revealed that despite it at times achieving number one market share position in digital camera sales in the US, it was unable to make money. This was due to the ‘old school’ manner of its service and distribution network. It has now changed the way it does business and is hoping to become a serious force in printers.

Has Kodak really changed the face of home printing as we know it? We’ll find out for sure as soon as as our erstwhile reviewer Simon gets his paws on one.


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