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Kodak ESP5 multifunction printer
Print, scan, and copy inexpensively
By John Virata

The Kodak ESP5 is the latest multi-function printer from Kodak that offers print, copy and scanning capabilities. The multi-function devices are fast replacing the dedicated photo printers at this price range, and it is easy to see why. These all in one devices offer the most bang for your hard earned dollars.

The Kodak ESP 5 features a two cartridge ink tank system, one black (MSRP $9.99) and a five color cartridge ($14.99). While many home printer purists prefer a separate ink cartridge for each individual color, Kodak has combined five colors in a single cartridge. Why? The price will tell you. The Kodak ink consumables are very inexpensive, with both black and the color cartridge costing about the same as a single black cartridge for many competing printers. This gives the home user a value proposition that is hard to ignore.

I've known some wasteful people who'd balk at paying upward of $50-$60 for inkjet cartridges and would just go ahead and pay $20 more and get yet another cheap printer. This throwaway mentality is something you'd no longer have to consider if ink cartridge prices weren't so expensive, and you have to give Kodak props for addressing this important environmental issue by lowering the price of cartridges. Twenty five dollars to get your printer printing again is cheap. Kodak is claiming that the ESP5 can print 52 4x6-inch color photos for $0.10 cents per photo compared to 18 color photos at $0.28 per photo. This is pushing the photo store prices, but you can do it at home, without driving to pick up your photos.

But wait, there's more. In addition to the capability to print very good quality images from your computer, you can also print directly from your memory card or USB stick. You can also print from PICTBRIDGE enabled devices standard, and from Bluetooth devices with a Bluetooth option. The ESP5 has a built in reader that enables you to print from a variety of card formats, including Compact Flash, SD, and Memory Stick. It can't though always accommodate multiple cards or USB sticks at the same time, as it depends on the number of images on the devices. It can handle each memory device one at a time no problem.

The Kodak ESP5


  • Print Speed: B and white / Color Up to 30/29 ppm
  • Display 3.0-inch color graphic LCD
  • Scanner - Scan multiple pictures at once and software will create separate image files automatically
    Software automatically detects, straightens, and copies pictures individually
    Scan a document and edit in word with optical character recognition
    AiO Software Standard (KODAK AiO Home Center, KODAK EASYSHARE Software)
  • 2 USB 1.1/2.0 device ports
  • 1 USB 1.1/2.0 device port
  • Memory card
  • Wireless Optional KODAK Wireless 2.0 USB BLUETOOTH Adapter

The ESP5 prints surprisingly high quality prints that belie its $169 list price and ink cartridge set up. When "photo" quality printers came on the market in the late 1990s, I dove in and purchased a few over the years. They featured the same two cartridge setup that the ESP 5 offers today. And then the printer manufacturers decided to foist onto the consumer that separate ink cartridges were best, but you always paid a price, first in the initial cash outlay for the printer, and then for the consumables when the ink cartridges ran dry.

The computer and consumer electronics media, me included, came to the conclusion that four (and even five) separate ink cartridges were more economical, and why throw a perfectly good cartridge away because it ran out of one color? It was really a harsh lesson in throwaway economics. But we're back again with the two cartridge system with the ESP5, but Kodak has decided not to ding the consumer for ink consumables with this printer.

So is the print quality acceptable? To the average consumer, me included, the prints output by the ESP 5 are indistinguishable from a four or even a six color printer that employs separate ink cartridges. Sure the experts with their loupes who will examine pixelated images blown up 1000 percent may be able to discern differences, but most untrained eyes won't be able to tell and will be super satisfied with the output of the ESP5. After printing more than 25 full color 8x10 images, I have to say that the output is very good. The color ink cartridge is running low, but the printer says the black cartridge is still viable for several more pritn runs.

The scanner enables you to scan photos and documents up to 8.5x11.7-inches. It offers a feature now common on many all in one multifunction devices, and that is the capability to lay down multiple images on the scanner bed and have the scanner software detect and scan each individual image as a separate image file. This is a huge timesaver. For photographs, I imagine scanners to become less useful as the world trends toward digital, but there will always be some photographs and other objects that will need to be scanned, and the built in scanner will serve its purpose.

As with most other multi-function devices, you can copy a document, photo, or anything else you can put on the scanner bed without having to use the computer. This is ideal when you want to quickly duplicate a rebate receipt, a book page, even a photograph. You can copy a single document up to 99 documents at a time.

First Impressions
At first, I was put off by the ESP5's two cartridge ink system, but when I delved a bit deeper, printed out some images and saw the very good quality the device output, and then saw the cost to replace the cartridges, I have become a firm believer in what Kodak is trying to do, and that is to influence the market to get people to print more at home and not fret over the cost of inks. The initial cost of the ESP5 is fairly inexpensive considering it is three devices in one, and to keep the unit printing will cost significantly less than the other printers that I have on my network. The ESP5 offers very good quality prints and the costs for ink cartridges are very reasonable. There is no price gouging on ink cartridges like other printer companies are known to do, and there really is no need to purchase third party "compatible" inks, because the Kodak cartridges are very inexpensive. For more information, visit

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John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at

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