By Chris Holt Tech Advisor | on February 02, 2010
Price When Reviewed: £165.53
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Kodak's ESP 9 is a colour multifunction inkjet device that prints, copies, faxes and scans.
The Kodak ESP 9 is a versatile device equipped with very good colour scanning and printing capabilities but is mediocre in other important areas.
The Kodak ESP 9 has Wi-Fi, ethernet and USB connectivity. The 3in LCD screen flips out on an easy-to-read panel that gives you access to copy, fax and scan features. A jet-black exterior and blue LED panel lights give the impression of refinement, a marked contrast from the shades of gray of many printers. Kodak offers a one-year warranty on this machine.
With its stylish design, the Kodak ESP 9 looks at home in your entertainment centre, much like a DVD player or stereo system would. Unfortunately, because the ESP 9 is so horribly loud, you won't want it anywhere near your living room, office, or pets that scare easily.
The Kodak ESP 9 can print on plain paper, but if you use Kodak photo paper, the printer can read the markings on the back of the paper and adjust its settings for optimal image output.
Our Photoshop 22MB image test document received only a Good rating when we used standard premium glossy paper, but improved to a Very Good rating when we switched to the Kodak Ultra Premium Photo Paper. The downside is that this Kodak paper costs around £20 for 100 letter-sized sheets - not exactly a bargain.
The image quality difference is noticeable enough that you should use Kodak photo paper to produce the best prints. We also found that printing without Kodak paper led to frequent paper jams, and clearing such jams was frustrating.
The pricey paper is offset by the cheap ink replacement costs, however.
In our timed trials, the Kodak ESP 9 produced times that were either sluggish or surprisingly speedy, depending on the difficulty of the task. It's in colour printing where the ESP 9 seemed to be fastest, printing our 22MB Photoshop document in 1 minute and 54 seconds. That's a full minute faster than the Epson WorkForce 600.
On the other hand, when it comes to text, the Kodak ESP 9 finished our trials with simply awful times. It finished the one-page Word test in 38 seconds on average - three times longer than our top performers. Our 10-page Word test averaged around three and a half minutes, and that's also three times slower than several high-end inkjets we've tested.
Our jury tests were equally up and down. When it came to copies, the Kodak ESP 9 got a Fair score; copies are depressingly dark and colour seemed lifeless. Scans were better, with our test scan for color quality receiving a Very Good rating and our test scan for clarity awarded a Good rating. Colour in our scans was a bit too red and dark, while clarity was a little soft but otherwise quite strong.
The print tests were more impressive. In our Graphics: Fine Lines and Gradients test, the Kodak ESP 9 received a Good rating, with one juror noting the printer's struggles at producing an even gray gradient. In our Text Quality test and 22MB Photoshop image test, the ESP 9 was awarded a Very Good rating. The Kodak paper, which we used for our final jury results, did in fact make a difference in producing sharper and more vibrant prints than when printing with plain paper.