The printer ships with the two separate installation discs for Mac OS X and Windows XP/Vista. It also includes the Kodak Home Center software. The Home Center acts as a hub for the copy, print, and scan functions. The copy feature is easy to navigate and offers a unique collage copy setting that duplicates several pictures in the same orientation as the originals. The scanning center is a little too simplified and lacks an option to scan directly to a PDF or an e-mail; both are almost an industry standard and we're disappointed to see that Kodak let these two crucial features fall by the wayside.
Luckily, you get more options in the print center. In the initial set up, you can set the software to automatically scan your computer for photos and is actually very easy to navigate, like an iPhoto for Dummies. Once you've chosen the photos to print, the software offers the opportunity to edit each individual picture with a variety of one-touch enhancements including color sharpening, red-eye reduction, color restoration, and Kodak's "Perfect Touch" technology that combines all three in one button. You can alter the severity of each adjustment under the settings menu. The software also lets you perform a custom facial retouch that analyzes portraits and fixes skin blemishes and discoloration accordingly. The result doesn't always work as well as a custom Photoshop edit, but the learning curve is much shorter and meant for the average users wanting to clean up their images with little to no hassle.
The Kodak ESP5 is a little inconsistent in terms of its speed. We compared it with several other all-in-one inkjets in a similar price range, and while it printed at almost the exact same speed as the ESP3, the rest of the results aren't as clear cut. The ESP registered at the bottom of the list for text, printing at a low 4.39 pages, yet it topped the competition in the photo speed test, standing tall at 1.37 pages per minute. It's worth noting that the rest of the sample scores aren't very widespread, and we doubt you'll notice a significant difference in speed over a long period of time. It's safe to say, however, that the Kodak ESP5 comes in at a very average pace.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Photo Speed||Color Scanning Speed||Graphics Speed||Text Speed|
We complained that the ESP3 produced blotchy, transparent colors and unrealistic skin tones, so we're happy to see the improvement Kodak has made in the ESP5. Color text under the "normal" setting still leaves a bit to be desired and we can still see visible banding in darker shading, but the transition from color to color is visibly cleaner with more distinct line formation. We recommend specifying "best" as the default print quality; you'll notice a significant difference between "normal" and "best."
Service and support
Kodak protects the ESP5 with a comprehensive one-year warranty that covers the printer as well as the print head. It also covers ink cartridges for 13 months from the date of manufacture or until it needs to be replaced, whichever comes first. The warranty includes toll free phone support from 9 a.m. to midnight ET every day, and an online chat system that lets you speak with a Kodak technician from Saturday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET. Kodak's site also has manuals, software downloads, and interactive tutorials to help with the troubleshooting process.
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