Kodak claims 32ppm for black or colour printing in draft mode from this machine. The fastest times we saw for printing our black text and text and graphics documents in normal mode were 1:21 and 1:38, the equivalent of 3.7ppm and 3.1ppm. We suspect Kodak speeds are derived from printing large documents and are measured without rasterisation or paper feed times. This measurement technique is not restricted to Kodak, of course, but it does produce very unrealistic figures.
The quality of plain paper text prints from the ESP 3 is generally reasonable, without much spatter or bleed into the paper fibre. Colour prints are also good, though with lightened tints in areas of colour fill. A colour photocopy produced good quality output from the 1,200dpi CIS scanner, though colours were further lightened, in comparison with their originals. Kodak doesn’t quote print resolutions for its all-in-one machines.
Photo prints are of very good quality, with neutral colours, close to those on-screen and with a fine level of detail. Areas of varying tint, like skies, are smooth and show little noticeable dithering. It’s impressive to see photos of this quality from a comparatively low-priced all-in-one.
Kodak is quite selective in the costs it quotes to get its ‘Save up to 50%’ headline on consumables. You have to be printing photos and buy ink and paper in Kodak’s Photo Value Pack. When printing on plain paper – the main use of an all-in-one for most people – we calculate black print costs at 2.87p and colour at 5.51p, both using standard ISO test pages and including 0.7p for paper. For comparison, under the same conditions, we measured the HP Photosmart C5280 at 2.58p and 5.12p and the Epson Stylus DX8400F at 2.72p and 6.61p, respectively.
The ESP3 does its job well, but with an asking price of £70, you have to compare it with other all-in-one in the same price bracket. If you look at the HP Photosmart C5280 or Epson Stylus DX8400F, both costing much the same as the ESP 3, they both have colour LCD displays, which makes standalone photo prints easier. The HP also has twin, covered paper trays for plain and photo paper and can print CDs, too.
You do, of course, save money on ink with the Kodak machine, but the savings aren’t that spectacular, unless you’re printing photos on Kodak’s standard photo paper, bought in its special media pack. In the end you have to assess what you want from a £70 all-in-one: photo economy or feature-set.
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