The Kodak ESP Office 2170 is a multifunction printer that can print, copy, and scan on a budget thanks to a new print engine inside that separates the printheads from the dual-ink cartridges. This new hardware design lets Kodak cut the price down to a lower cost per page than many competitive devices in the same sub-$150 category. With an attractive design that shows definite improvement over previous models, a comprehensive software bundle (PC-only), and innovative features like an automatic paper sensor, stereoscopic 3D printing, and the Kodak Pic Flick app for BlackBerrys and iPhones, the ESP Office 2170 is worth your dollar.
Kodak builds the 2170 with the same general design as the Kodak ESP C310, but instead of a small cockpit on top, the 2170 has a control panel that sits at a fixed angle on the front of the machine, supporting a diminutive 1.5-inch LCD display and a host of shortcut buttons for directional scrolling through menus, a keypad for dialing fax numbers, and shortcut buttons to start the copy, fax, scan, and photo functions.
There's also a small green Wi-Fi indicator LED on the right side of the control panel, and just below the buttons you'll find a multimedia card reader for Memory Stick, xD-Picture Card, SD, and USB via the PictBridge-compatible port just above it.
The $50 price difference between the C310 and the 2170 goes a long way, with the 2170 offering plenty of extra options like a 25-page autodocument feeder and a rear-loading, 150-sheet paper input tray that marks a vast improvement over older Kodak models that used a clunky, unreliable feeder situated underneath the printer. Additionally, the paper input tray has a smart sensor that automatically recognizes the size and type of paper you're inserting and adjusts the printing preferences accordingly, so you won't waste precious photo paper.
On the downside, the overall paper capacity is low, considering that competing printers like the Canon Pixma MG6120 can hold 150 sheets in the cassette with another 150 sheets loaded into the autodocument feeder. We won't knock Kodak too much for this oversight, but large offices will need to refill the tray frequently.
Although Kodak markets the 2170 as an office printer, there are only two ways to connect it to an accompanying computer: Wi-Fi and USB. Strangely, there's no Ethernet port on the back for a wired network connection. We set up the wireless connection easily enough by entering in our network name and password, and were able to get working in less than 5 minutes. Still, we expect some IT professionals will find the lack of wired networking a deal-breaker.
We're thankful that Kodak finally ditched the thin plastic arm that lifted up the cover of the ink bay on older printer models. Instead, the company joins the rest of the industry by using a hinged design that allows the lid on the 2170 to stay open by itself, allowing easy access to the ink cartridge bay.
Kodak also redesigned the black and tricolor inks so that the printheads are physically separate, which requires a little more work to install at first, but saves you money in the long term since Kodak doesn't have to ship printheads with every cartridge. Using Kodak's advertised ink costs and estimated page yields, the cost per page is roughly 3.7 cents per page of black ink and 11.3 cents for color, making the 2170 one of the most affordable printers on the market in terms of the cost of consumables.
The printer ships with a helpful driver disc that walks you through the installation process and includes Kodak's All-in-One 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 simple as well, but lacks the option to scan directly to a fax, so you have to first save the photo to your computer and initiate a fax from there.