Conclusion

December 6, 2011 by Sarah Meyer Reads (14,375)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Service & Support
    • 6
    • Print Quality
    • 8
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 9
    • Performance / Print Speed
    • 9
    • Features
    • 10
    • Operational Costs
    • 8
    • Total Score:
    • 8.33
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Print Speed and Quality
Here is one area where the Kodak HERO 9.1 really stands out from the ESP AIO line. The past two reviews we’ve done, the Kodak Office ESP 2170 and Kodak ESP 9250 AIOs, have seen average advertised print speeds around 5 or 6 ppm in black and less than average performance.

But the HERO 9.1 is advertised as offering print speeds up to 8.5 ipm in black and 5.5 ipm in color with 4×6 print speeds in as fast as 28 seconds. So of course my first thought was how accurate will these speeds actually be?

Well, during our first test, the 40-page black and white text document, the HERO 9.1 averaged 8 ppm with a first page out in about 15 seconds. When we mixed in color, we saw average print speeds around 4 ppm unless the color was minimal, then it was closer to the advertised print speeds of 5.5 ipm.

These aren’t the fastest print speeds we’ve seen from an AIO inkjet but they are the fastest print speeds I’ve seen during a Kodak review and very competitive with other AIOs in this class.

The HERO 9.1 offers both draft prints and automatic duplexing. I saw increased print speeds when printing in draft mode averaging 14 ppm with a first page out in about 12 seconds, but the quality obviously declines. The black is only slightly lighter, but the text isn’t as solid and accurate as it is when printing in normal mode.


Kodak HERO 9.1 normal print, left, draft print, right. Scanned in with the Kodak HERO 9.1

The HERO 9.1’s print speeds decrease dramatically when printing double-sided documents. When printing in normal mode double-sided, the average print speed is about 2 ppm, with a first page out in about 48 seconds.

But the HERO 9.1 really shines in the photo printing area. I’ve already mentioned how much I like the Kodak Home Center and photo software, but it would be fairly worthless without quality photos and the HERO 9.1 does not slack in this department. The colors were bold, the details sharp and I have to admit that the HERO 9.1 prints the best images on the Kodak Ultra paper. Definitely as good as I’ve seen from any lab, if not better, when you combine two.


Kodak HERO 9.1 print samples scanned in with the Kodak HERO 9.1

Below, we have our scanned in balloon image.? The print out lost some of it’s color accuracy when it was scanned and saved, it was much closer the digital image in real life.


Original digital image, left, Kodak HERO 9.1 print sample scanned in with the Kodak HERO 9.1, right

And the print speeds are right on target. The HERO 9.1 prints an average 4×6 color document in about 30 seconds, but we saw print speeds as fast as 27 seconds. The 8.5 x 11 images were slower, but still very competitive, averaging a print speed of two minutes. When printing specialty photos such as 3D images or video stills, we saw no discernable time difference. I’m still not sure I’m on board with 3D images, but they can be fun if done right.”);”>

Ink Control Tests
In our tests, we exhaust (printing until the color runs out) a new set of cartridges; exhaustion meaning the printer will not print another “quality” document without a replacement. We print at a ratio of three pages of black and white text to one full page of color. We decided on the 3:1 ratio because we felt that the average user is printing more text than color.

The Kodak HERO 9.1 includes two ink cartridges from Kodak: the Kodak 10 black and the Kodak 10c color. Kodak also offers a high capacity black ink cartridge (Kodak 10XL) in addition to the standard capacity, but since they weren’t included in the original packaging, we didn’t perform the exhaust test on them.

At the ratio of 3:1 in Kodak’s default printing mode, the HERO 9.1 printed 298 pages before the printer halted the current job to alert me that both the black and color ink cartridges had expired (run out of ink) and needed to be replaced. There was no?’low ink’ status warning that popped up, but users can keep track of ink levels through the Kodak Status Monitor (that appears briefly at the beginning of each job with a red exclamation point if a cartridge is getting low), through the display on the printer and through the Home Center.

Kodak promises the “lowest total ink replacement cost” for their all-in-one printers based on the standard capacity cartridges, although competitors must be getting close now that the color ink cartridge is priced at $19.99.

But you can still get a standard capacity combo pack for under $30 and that is a good value when it comes to ink. You won’t necessarily get more than 300 pages from a printer with six cartridges or two cartridges, but you’ll definitely be saving money over the long run.

Only one paper jam to report during the duplexing test and I realized it was because the rear door was open. Once it was closed, I didn’t have any other problems. However, if you forget to load enough paper in the tray (which is easy to do since it only holds 100 sheets of copy paper), the printer will punish you with a less than pleasant noise.

Energy Tests
The HERO 9.1 uses about 5W of power in ready mode. It takes an hour of non-use for it to slip into sleep mode and even then I didn’t notice a significant difference, using 4W of energy.

The HERO 9.1 never pulled more than 26W of energy, and that was during draft printing when the printer was working harder. When printing in normal mode, the HERO 9.1 used between 14-19W in black and 14-24W in color. When printing photos, the energy use was similar, pulling between 15-21W of energy.

The HERO 9.1 is Energy Star qualified.

HERO 9.1 SPECIFICATIONS:

  • 4-in-1 inkjet: print, scan, copy and fax
  • Print speeds: 8.5 ipm in black, 5.5 ipm in color
  • 4×6 prints in as fast as 28 seconds
  • Print resolution: up to 9600 dpi (optimized)
  • 4.3-inch touchscreen display
  • Google Cloud Print, Kodak Email Print
  • 3D Print
  • Automatic duplexing
  • Built-in card reader with front side USB
  • 30-page ADF
  • Paper capacity: 100-sheet paper tray, 40-sheet photo tray
  • Connectivity: Hi-Speed USB 2.0, Ethernet, Wireless
  • Operating System: Windows, Mac OS 10.5 or higher
  • Energy Star qualified
  • Warranty: 1-year from date of purchase

CONCLUSION
I’ve been hard on certain Kodak printers in the past because the photo quality hasn’t been up to snuff, or certain devices didn’t work right, but in my humble opinion, Kodak has done a really good job on improving on past mistakes. The Kodak ESP 9250 was a good printer, and the HERO 9.1 takes it up a notch further.

The design itself includes almost every feature available on AIOs in its class: a 30-page ADF, large 4.3-inch touchscreen, separate photo tray, front side USB port and automatic duplexing. Plus, Kodak throws in excellent software with the Home Center, a unique 3D print option and jumps on board with Google Cloud Print and Kodak Email Print.

All of that would be for naught if the quality and print speeds were off, but the HERO 9.1 delivered the best print quality and print speeds I’ve seen from a Kodak printer since I reviewed the ESP 9 two years ago.

And the HERO 9.1 offers the lowest total ink replacement in its class. The only complaint I have is that the black and white quality isn’t quite as good as what you’ll see from a flagship Canon AIO because they offer both pigment and dye-based black ink cartridges in their model.

This is why I decided to give the Kodak HERO 9.1 the PrinterComparison Editor’s Choice Award. I haven’t given one to an inkjet AIO in awhile because I haven’t found one that combined so many useful features in one package for a decent price, but I believe Kodak does that here. The HERO 9.1 would be an excellent option as a household printer, especially for multi-person households where everyone seems to have different needs.

PRICING AND AVAILABLITY
The Kodak HERO 9.1 All-in-One is available now through Kodak and authorized dealers for the suggested price of $249.99. As of this writing, the HERO 9.1 is out of stock on Kodak.com.

Supplies and accessories are available through Kodak. Bundle the standard capacity 10B with the high capacity 10C for $29.98 or get the high capacity 10XL with the 10C for $36.98. Kodak also offers a value pack with three 10B cartridges, two 10C cartridges, 25 sheets of Kodak Ultra Premium 8.5 x 11-inch photo paper and 60 sheets of Kodak Ultra Premium 4 x 6 inch photo paper for $79.99.

Kodak offers a 1-year warranty from date of purchase for the hardware, print head and ink cartridges for the HERO 9.1 and 10 series ink cartridges.


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