Kodak ESP 1.2 £69

16th May 2012 | 13:32

Kodak ESP 1.2

Entry-level Kodak all-in-one with Wi-Fi

TechRadar rating:

3 stars

Like:

Relatively cheap to run; Easy to set up; Simple to use; Great photo prints;

Dislike:

Single colour ink tank; Reasonably loud; No CD printing;

Introduction

Being released in the UK only for a price of £69 (about $110), there's little to separate the Kodak ESP 1.2 all-in-one printer from its stablemate, the ESP 3.2, which costs £79 in the UK and $99.99 in the US.

Both offer wireless printing, plus scanning and copying. Setting them up with Wi-Fi is fast with the new ESPs, and both come Google Cloud Print-ready.

Neither printer is Apple AirPrint enabled, but downloading Kodak's free Pic Flick App enables wireless printing from an iPhone, iPad, Android or BlackBerry device.

Kodak ESP 1.2 review

USB 2.0 connectivity is offered as standard, and each printer can read and write to SD, SDHC, MMC and Memory Stick.

Both the Kodak ESP 1.2 and Kodak ESP 3.2 feature a rear paper tray that can feed the printer with up to 100 sheets of A4 (similar to US letter size) or 20 sheets of photo paper.

Print resolution is pitched at 9600 optimised dpi for photos and 1200 x 1200 dpi for monochrome text.

Kodak ESP 1.2 review

Both include a 1200 dpi optical scanner, with the option to scan images and documents to computer or memory card, and both can make up to 99 copies of a document in one go.

In fact, the only distinguishing feature of the Kodak ESP 1.2 is actually quite a small one - the screen. It's approximately the size of an SD card, and inputting a wireless router's security code to access a wireless network using such a diminutive display and offset cursor keys requires painstaking precision.

The Kodak ESP 3.2's screen is around twice the size, and offers a touchscreen interface that's much more user-friendly. The Kodak ESP 1.2's is clear enough to navigate, it's it's just not as comfortable to use.

Kodak ESP 1.2 review

Build and handling

The Kodak ESP 1.2 is a comparatively compact all-in-one, measuring just 16.5 x 12.4 x 7 inches and weighing 5.1kg when full of ink and paper.

A single-panel, angled rear paper feed folds out from the top, while the pull-out output tray is a small, three-stage design. Other than that, the Kodak ESP 1.2 is a typically black-boxy affair.

The Kodak ESP 1.2 follows others in the range by using Kodak 30 series inks: a single-ink pigment-based black for text printing and a colour cartridge which contains three pigmented colours (cyan, magenta and yellow).

Kodak ESP 1.2 review

As we've stressed in our Kodak ESP 3.2 and Kodak Hero 9.1 reviews, this single colour cartridge approach isn't ideal. Once one colour runs out, you have to replace the whole cartridge, even if the other two tanks have plenty of ink to spare.

Supply levels can be monitored in the printer driver or on the printer screen itself. During our testing period, we managed to print approximately 30 A4 (roughly US letter size) photo prints, plus numerous black and white documents and photocopies before the colour ink supply was depleted to 1/3 of its capacity.

Kodak's ISO Page Yield Test indicates that it's possible to print around 132 A6 (roughly 4 x 6-inch) photos before the colour ink cartridge needs replacing. Based on the recommended price of the standard 30 series ink tanks - £14.99 in the UK and $19.99 in the US - this puts the price per print at 11.5p, or 15 cents.

Kodak ESP 1.2 review

Yields for black text pages are measured at 335 pages. With a standard black Kodak series 30 cartridge costing £7.99 in the UK and $12.99 in the US, this prices it at 2.4p or 3.8 cents per page.

Naturally by buying online you can make considerable savings on the quoted ink prices, and opting for the larger XL 30 series tanks and Combo or Value Packs will shave even more off the total. This makes the running costs seem very reasonable.

Performance and print times

Like the Kodak ESP 3.2, photo prints from the all-in-one Kodak ESP 1.2 are good quality. Our test shots using the best 4 x 6 glossy photo paper had good levels of saturation, and contrast levels were better than our A4 prints made with Kodak Gloss Photo Paper.

There's plenty of shadow detail visible in photos, but this can come at the expense of highlight texture. As with the Kodak ESP 3.2 test chart, the brightest values on a greyscale wedge we output on the Kodak ESP 1.2 were indistinguishable.

The rest of the test charts exhibited similar strengths and weaknesses as the Kodak ESP 3.2. They showed good, neutral colouration, slight banding and mottling in transitions and decent levels of detail.

Kodak ESP 1.2 review

Photo scans exhibit some noise in shadow areas and can lose highlight information, while colour document photocopies benefit from selecting the Best Quality option for finer detail reproduction and more accurate colours. Unsurprisingly, plain paper text prints also look cleaner using this option.

Printing and scanning times

When it comes to scanning, the Kodak ESP 1.2 is efficient. We noted a time of 17 seconds for a colour document scanned to a computer via USB 2.0. A colour photocopy of the same document, using the printer's best quality setting, was output in approximately one minute.

Kodak ESP 1.2 review

A standard six-page text document took 1min 18secs to print, and we clocked a single text page at 16 seconds from the paper being ingested to the finished page appearing in the output tray.

Kodak's quoted print speed of 38 seconds for a 4 x 6 borderless photo print proved accurate during our Kodak ESP 1.2 test, as with the Kodak ESP 3.2. We averaged between 38 and 40 seconds for fairly dense images on Kodak Ultra Premium Photo Paper.

Verdict

The Kodak ESP 1.2 is a tidy all-rounder that represents good value for money. Considering the price, and the all-in-one nature of the machine, photo prints are of impressive quality.

We liked

Good photos, easy Wi-Fi set-up and printing, and an emphasis on keeping things simple for the new user.

We disliked

The control interface isn't as slick as the one on its stablemate. It's also a little noisy when it gets going.

Final verdict

While the Kodak ESP 1.2 is a good printer, the performance levels are so similar between the ESP 1.2 and ESP 3.2 that it's hard to see why Kodak felt the need to release both all-in-ones.

At £10 (around $15), the price difference is so negligible to not be a concern, and because the 'premium' gets you a better screen and interface on the Kodak ESP 3.2, that's where the sensible money should go.

Kodak
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