Kodak EasyShare 5300 All In One printer, scanner, and copier

Kodak's new device aims to reduce running costs by 50%. But is it any good to start with?

The launch of Kodak’s EasyShare 5300 was widely hailed by most commentators, including Best4Reviews, as a big bonus for consumers.

Kodak taking the lead on holding down the cost of consumables is slightly more surprising but at least, and not before time, it has (so it claims) been done. The claim? Kodak reckons the 5300 has 50% lower running costs than competing products.

So let's take a look at the evidence.

The hard facts are black ink cartridges cost just £6.99 in the UK and the combined five-ink colour tank, containing the cyan, magenta, photo black, yellow, and special clear sealing ink retails at £9.99. This is how Kodak has reached its claimed print cost of 7p per print, similar to the kind of price we're used to paying for bulk orders on the high street.

That’s rather good, but this is not altruism, Kodak still want to make some money, which is why you pay a 'proper' price for the device itself, £139. This is unlike some companies that charge £50 for a high-end all-in-one device, but then sting you for the same again for a new set of ink.

Onto the printer then, which is rather bulky but with a solid build except for the articulated paper supports, which are very flimsy by comparison.

A nice 3-inch LCD to the right of the top plate accompanies the seemingly complex controls: they are however, simple to master and well sign-posted.

Connections include dual USB 2.0 ports on the front (for PictBridge/USB/EXIF print compatible cameras) and you get a set of memory card slots servicing the most common formats. The 3-inch colour screen helps with set up for direct prints from a camera or memory cards and makes sorting through images easy peasy. You get Kodak’s PerfectTouch Technology too, for quick yet basic image enhancements on the fly.

The software included is good for Windows users but unfortunately not for Mac users. I also found the driver software to be unreliable, the printer DROPped connection with my G5 iMac on various occasions and for no apparent reason. Another firmware revision (there’s been one already) to sort this out is obviously still needed.
The lack of a printed manual means you need to read the PDF-manual on screen or content yourself with a large, fold out quick start guide. Thankfully the 5300’s set up is straightforward and getting started is quick once the drivers are installed on your PC.

The two ink tanks slot home easily, and while most manufacturers are now using separate tanks for their inks, Kodak has put six inks (or rather five inks and one sealant ink) into two cartridges.

So what's the drawback?

Well, if the yellow runs out, say, you have to throw the other remaining unused inks out with it and replace the lot. Wasteful then, and this must indeed have an adverse affect on the overall running costs in the end.

Another quibble. Kodak claims a 4x6-inch borderless print can be printed in 28-seconds…

Not in my test, where it took around 1.5-minutes using top-quality, Kodak ULTRA Premium glossy photo paper and the highest quality print setting. There’s no 'draft' print mode, but to attain Kodak’s claimed print speed claims you must sacrifice quality for speed.

Talking of speed, scanning is fast but you must use the supplied Kodak Home Centre software because the system does not allow you to scan directly to a TWAIN package such as Photoshop for example. Copying is inconsistent with colour quality and print density varying across multiple copies.

Another oddity is the fact you cannot directly copy and print at photo-quality a copy of a photo. You’ll must scan to file and then print it out at photo quality. This means that the scanner, while fast, is more a business tool than quality copying device.

In terms of top photo quality output, only a very close inspection of prints will reveal the slight graininess of the output that stops it from being truly excellent photo output.

However, colour rendition and black and white output are surprisingly good and neutral respectively, the latter black and white output having only a very subtle, blue hue, spoiling an otherwise good performance.

Text quality is good on inkjet paper, but DROPs to average on plain A4 paper where text becomes fuzzier round the edges but acceptable. Overall, in the 5300 you have a user-friendly all-in-one that helps save money over time – on consumables – but provides average results.

But, apart from niggles over software and the enforcement of Kodak scanning routines (the software will even send you to Kodak’s web site for prints!) the EasyShare 5300 has lots to commend it, not least Kodak’s effort to help reduce print costs for the consumer… if you believe that of course.

Kodak is not a charity and its supposed altruism hides the fact it will sell even more paper and ink to you if you buy the 5300.

Cynicism aside, the key factor in buying the 5300 is the 50% less consumable costs. So rather than buy a £50 all-in-one from another manufacturer with inks that costs as much, if not more, when you come to replace them, Kodak have a pricier initial proposition out of the box. But one which produces great prints, scans and copies and, when it comes time to buy more ink and paper, will not leave a nasty taste in your wallet.