Can a $299 ink jet printer (and scanner and fax) start a revolution? I
don't know, but the Kodak EasyShare 5500 is one interesting piece of
equipment which I'm enjoying in ways I didn't expect.
Beyond the glaring white case - a trend among printer makers, it
seems, who must believe that "consumer" all-in-one printers would
never, ever enter an office space - the EasyShare 5500 offers a
combination of features and a tantalizing promise: ink refills that
won't require you to refinance your house.
As mentioned here (and elsewhere) many times, inkjet and laser printer
manufacturers, to a degree, operate much like the Gillette Company
does. The "razor," or in this case the printer, is relatively
inexpensive, and you "pay" for the bargain when you need to buy a new
ink cartridge. With the new EasyShare printers, announced in February,
Kodak claims it'll turn the tables: the firm said it would offer
refills "priced at $9.99 for a cartridge of black ink and $14.99 for a
five-ink color cartridge," a price the firm claimed was "half the cost
of other consumer inkjet printers."
Having just begun using the EasyShare 5500, it's impossible for me to
prove that claim. It's a somewhat audacious one, and if true, it'll be
rather liberating for users. What I can say is that if you use the
printer properly, the resulting prints will be quite nice.
For example, attach a camera (or even an Apple, Inc., IPhone) using a
USB cable, or slip in a camera's memory card, and you can print photos
directly without going through a PC. There's a small LCD screen on the
front of the printer which lets you view and select photos using a
series of push-button controls. It's rather nice. At the same time,
you can print photos from a computer using software such as Apple's
IPhoto '08, which arrived last week.
A neat "trick," though, is the built-in miniature paper drawer which
handles 4-by-6 inch photo paper. Slide it forward before printing and
your photos come out looking very much as if they came back from the
drugstore, only they appear in 10 seconds, not a couple of days.
The printer handles other types of photo paper, and you can also
print, on plain paper, a "contact sheet" of prints from a digital
"roll" of photos, from which you can select what you want to print.
That sort of thing has been available on other printers for a while,
but it's a nice feature to have here.
I haven't used the duplex, or two-sided, printing feature of the
EasyShare 5500 yet, but that's one item which probably accounts for
the high-end price. Printing on two sides of a page not only saves
paper, it can make certain kinds of reading, such as with a report,
that much easier. For those who really want to use this device in
small business, it's almost a must.
I would be remiss, though, if I didn't discuss the scanning feature of
this printer. It's more than handy - it can be a lifesaver. I found
scanning better for monochromatic documents (bills, receipts, etc.)
using the sheet feeder and/or glass than for color items, unless I
scanned the latter as a photo. Scanning a color inkjet printout, I
either got a nice monochrome document or a very slow color scan of the
illustration on the printed page. Oh, well, I did mention that this
cost only $299? (Further practice with the scanner will likely result
in better scans, I suspect.)
No, the Kodak EasyShare 5500 will not slay dragons or do everything
everyone might want in every way imaginable. However, at the low price
it offers, you get a lot to like, and if the ink price works out,
little to regret down the road.