Kodak has opted for an unusual business model when it comes to printers. Rather than offering cheap hardware and expensive ink, the company's printers have a relatively high up-front cost, but are cheaper to run in the long term than many rivals.
The company's latest printer, the Hero 7.1, ups the ante again. This colour inkjet all-in-one printer offers a much more stylish design than previous Kodak offerings and comes with a large 3.5-inch touchscreen. It's available now for around £170.
Most printers are munters. Kodak's design team, however, has taken a step back to re-evaluate what a printer should actually look like, and the results are very impressive. This is undoubtedly one of the best-looking printers we've come across.
Most of the chassis is finished in matte black, which helps to avoid fingerprint marks, but the front panel that houses the resistive touchscreen has a glossy finish. There's also an attractive red accent just under the scanner lid, and the panels on either side of the paper tray have been given a brushed-metal paint job, although they are in fact made from plastic.
The 7.1 has a card slot on the front that takes Memory Stick, SD and MMC cards. Next to this, you'll find a PictBridge-compatible USB port. It's easy to select the photos you want to print, thanks to the large screen.
Setting the printer up is very straightforward -- the 7.1's touchscreen pretty much guides you through the entire process. All you really have to do is remove all of the protective tapes and tags, slot the printer head and ink cartridges into the belly of the machine and then load up the installation CD on your computer.
The set-up wizard then guides you through the installation process for the printer driver and various pieces of software, including Kodak's Home Center application. This offers some neat features, such as the ability to print 3D pictures that you can then view with the two pairs of anaglyph 3D glasses that are supplied in the box. It's not an essential feature, but kids will certainly find it fun for a while.
You can also set up cloud printing from the Home Center application. This allows you to send print jobs to the printer from anywhere in the world via an Internet-connected device, such as a laptop or smart phone. There are two options -- you can either use Google's cloud printing service or Kodak's own cloud service. As the 7.1 supports Wi-Fi, it doesn't need to be connected to a PC for cloud printing to take place.
Scanning and copying
The top of the printer is home to a flatbed scanner with an optical resolution of 2,400dpi. Unfortunately, unlike many of the scanners on rival models, this one isn't double-hinged, so scanning thicker items, like books, can be awkward. Nevertheless, the scanner generally produces pretty decent results. Scans have fairly accurate colours and detail levels are above average.