Remote access from the cloud is perhaps the most convenient feature of the 3.2, and you get two simple ways to print from any computer with an Internet connection. The most ubiquitous is Google Cloud Print, a free utility that lets multiple users share printers over the Web with a simple username registration and a compatible device running Google products. Google stores your device information on its servers to keep your computer clutter-free and simplifies the process even further by keeping drivers and firmware up to date.
The other side of the company's cloud-printing diligence is Kodak E-mail Print. It's designed to release users from the shackles of the print driver by assigning a unique e-mail address to every printer that you can use to send jobs directly from any connected device. When you send an e-mail to the printer, you can choose to either attach a compatible file (Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Excel, PDF, text files, BMP, PNG, GIF, TIFF) for formatted documents or just paste a body of text in plain or HTML form to the e-mail body. Kodak provides the address for your particular device during the wireless setup process, and the virtual instructions walk you through it step by step.
The ESP 3.2 performed at a noticeably slower rate than the average printer in the $100 price bracket. The disparity is usually negligible unless you're printing long-form documents, but the Kodak's speeds dropped down to a rate that may even bottleneck your workflow at home. For comparison, the Epson NX430 printed a 10-page plain black text Word document at a competition-shattering 14.11 pages per minute (PPM), more than three times faster than the ESP 3.2's disappointing 4.56 PPM.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Presentation (PPM)||Photo (1 Sheet)||Color graphics (PPM)||Text (PPM)|
Unfortunately, the printer's imaging quality will leave you with more disappointment -- blotchy, transparent colors and unrealistic skin tones marred the sample images I printed, and color graphics show serious banding issues with missing segments of color gradations. Skins tones also looked grainy and unrealistic, even on Kodak's best glossy 8.5-by-11-inch photo paper.
Photo prints came out the best out of all the tests, but they still suffer an excessive amount of yellow ink that produces a cloudy, oversaturated tone. Scan quality is better, but also retains dark compression issues. The color scan produced accurate results, if not slightly on the bright side, and the overall impression was sharp and defined.
That said, everyday text prints came out looking the best with acceptable saturation levels that I wouldn't hesitate to use as presentation materials for an office meeting.
Service and support
Kodak supports the ESP 3.2 with a one-year warranty for toll-free phone and online-chat tech support available every day. The Kodak Web site provides access to manuals, driver downloads, troubleshooting tips, graphic tutorials, and a list of frequently asked questions.
The Kodak ESP 3.2 offers the same cloud-based printing functions as its Office Hero linemates, but users will likely grow frustrated with its shoddy build problems and weak output performance. Check out the Epson Stylus NX430 or the Canon Pixma MX372 for a more reliable alternative at the same price.
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