Kodak ESP 7250 inkjet multifunction printer

The Kodak ESP 7250 colour inkjet multifunction printer offers home and student users a fun assortment of features for a mid-range price ($200 as of May 26, 2010). Its low ink costs are appealing, but this MFP is otherwise an average performer.

The ESP 7250 is easy to use from the get-go. You can install it via USB, Ethernet, or Wi-Fi; and completing the driver and network installation processes takes just a handful of clicks each. The driver’s photo enhancement capabilities are particularly nice, allowing you to tweak image colours without resorting to profiles. Kodak’s comprehensive Home Center printing, copying, and scanning software is as good-looking as it is capable.

The ESP 7250’s control panel is practical and clean. Menus and photos appear on the 2.4-inch colour LCD, and you navigate through them by using a four-way rocker button. All of the buttons on the panel are clearly labeled.

Though fun features abound on the ESP 7250, the MFP’s basics are limited. A 40-sheet photo input tray piggybacks onto the main tray–a nice convenience–and the standard automatic duplexer helps you save paper by printing on both sides (not with photo paper, of course). Using Kodak’s Pic Flick app (a free download from PCWorld’s AppGuide), you can print photos from an iPod Touch or iPhone on the ESP 7250. Software for printing from a BlackBerry will be available later. The 7250 lacks an automatic document feeder for the letter-size flatbed scanner, however, and its main paper tray holds just 100 sheets.

In our Mac and PC tests, the ESP 7250 ran slower than most competing MFPs, and not all of its output was worth the wait. Text speed was below average: 4.6 pages per minute on a PC, and 3.6 ppm on a Mac. Output quality, though generally crisp, was dark-gray rather than black. Photo print speed was better, at 1.8 ppm.

On Kodak’s own special paper, photos looked nice; but the same images on plain paper were faded, yellowy, and grainy. Scan times (measured on the Mac platform) were peppy, and monochrome scans and copies looked good. Colour scans, however, appeared choppy, cartoonish, and off-colour.

Kodak’s ink costs are among the cheapest around. The 10C tricolour cartridge ($18) is rated for 420 pages, or only 4.28 cents per page. The 425-page 10B black cartridge ($10) comes out to 2.35 cents per page. The 770-page 10XL black cartridge ($17) has a higher page yield but only a slightly lower cost per page: 2.2 cents. Kodak did not offer high-yield colour cartridges for the ESP 7250 at the time of this review.

The Kodak ESP 7250’s low ink costs, photo paper tray, and photo quality will appeal to home and student users. Aside from the automatic duplexer, however, its other features and capabilities are unremarkable.

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