The $129 Kodak ESP3 is an all-in-one printer, scanner, and color copier whose low-cost ink cartridges make it perfect for budget-conscious photo enthusiasts who plan to do a lot of printing.
The ESP3 doesn't have a document feeder, which helps it keep its small 16.6 x 11.8 x 6.9-inch footprint. It supports PictBridge cameras and the most popular types of memory cards; otherwise you'll have to use a computer to see your photos, as it lacks an LCD. While Kodak gets points for including an extra USB printer cable in the box, it loses some on the overall design: In order to access the ink bay you first have to lift the scanner bay, and then a long mechanical arm automatically lifts up to keep it open. Seems there might be a better way to design this.
A black-and-white document printed out of the ESP3 at a rate of 22 pages per minute. Color printing was slightly slower at 20 ppm and caused the printer to sound a bit noisy. The documents weren't as clear as theEpson WorkForce 500--and some of the graphics were close to being unacceptable. Scanning and copying--a fast 22 ppm--were good but otherwise unremarkable. A color 4 x 6 photo took 31 seconds to print out--not as fast as the WorkForce 500 (26 seconds) but not as slow as the Lexmark X3650 (35 seconds). Pictures came out clear and vibrant, but we'd expect that from Kodak.
Included Software and Costs
When it came to printing a picture, we had to use Kodak's Home Center software. Generally we prefer to use our own photo editor, but in this case we were surprised. We really liked Kodak's program; it is very intuitive and easy to use. The Home Center program scans your computer's hard drive and the printer's onboard media bay for pictures. Then you can grab the pictures and crop, restore, and retouch them.
The ESP3 uses an intelligent paper sensor to adjust print settings--a smart, intuitive feature. Also, no vendor but Kodak includes an extra color ink cartridge (along with a black ink cartridge). This printer has the cheapest ink of the all-in-one printers we've recently reviewed, just $14.99 for color and $9.99 for black cartridges.
If you can handle the higher ink costs, the Epson WorkForce 500 delivers slightly better results in a shorter amount of time. However, while the Kodak ESP3 has the $129 price tag, those who plan to use a printer heavily will save money over the long haul and get better quality prints, too.