By Karl Hodge Tech Advisor | on November 01, 2011
Price When Reviewed: 199
Pros: Great build quality; crisp and accurate printouts, outstanding connectivity features, ink costs lower than from other manufacturers
Cons: Costs more than other models in the range with similar features
Kodak's Hero series of multifunction printers flip the accepted industry model. You'll pay a bit more up front for these smart looking all-in-ones - but you'll get your money back in the long run. The Kodak Hero 9.1 and its sibling printers are cheap to run whether you calculate it by cost per page or total ink replacement.
The Kodak Hero 9.1 is at the top of the range with a price point to match. Sharing the looks of its stylish siblings, the 9.1 does everything they can do - and a little bit more. For example, when reviewing the Kodak Office Hero 6.1 we wished for a touchscreen in place of the old-school numeric keypad console. The 9.1 grants that wish, with a substantial 4.3 inch LED display. And it still combines scanning, printing and copying capabilities with faxing features.
Like the Kodak Hero 7.1, there's a separate photo tray for your glossy prints. But with the Kodak Hero 9.1 you also get the automatic sheet feeder present in the 6.1.
While the Kodak Hero 9.1 brings all the strengths of the range, it also has a couple of its weaknesses. Colour is handled using a single, combined cartridge - with an additional cartridge for black ink. Perhaps this forms part of Kodak's low total replacement cost strategy - fewer components mean less packaging and fewer purchases. Still, it seems a waste to throw away ink.
See also: Kodak Hero 5.1 review
That dual cartridge set-up gives some great quality results though. We've no qualms with black and white, colour artwork or photographic reproduction. In all cases the output was at the top end of what you should rightfully expect from modern inkjet printing. And, though speed is still an issue, the Kodak Hero 9.1 is a little faster than the other entries.
Scanning is handled at 2400dpi, generating crisp results that are more than acceptable in a home context. Again, the lid isn't ideal for scanning thick media, like books for example, but the Kodak Hero 9.1 does the job. Copies zip through from scanner bed to print tray and we preferred the touchscreen to the clunky buttons on the Office Hero.
The Hero series shares some outstanding connectivity features, many powered by built-in WiFi. With the services it supports, including Google Cloud Printing, you can send documents and images to the printer from just about any device, anywhere you are.
For those of us who prefer to be in closer proximity to our prints, there's plenty of physical connectivity too. The memory card, USB and PictBridge support present in the rest of the series is here - as is an Ethernet port for direct connection to your LAN. It's worth mentioning here that the big touchscreen does a super job when you're printing direct from media, with sufficient resolution and size to pick images.
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