Name: Kodak Hero 9.1
Type: All-in-One printer/scanner/copier
Specs: Click here for full specs
The Kodak Hero 9.1 throws into the mix pretty much every high-end feature you can think of for a consumer all-in-one printer. Can its print speed and quality live up to the allure of its silky 4.3 inch touchscreen and cloud-printing capabilities? Read on to find out.
If you're flushed with cash, the £199.99 Kodak Hero 9.1 is the premium offering from the company's all-in-one printer range. With a 4.3 inch touchscreen, Wi-Fi and internet connectivity, duplex printing and cloud printing, it ticks every box when it comes to high-end printer features.
It looks very stylish too. In keeping with the rest of the Hero range's boxy look, the rectangular Hero 9.1 features a mix of gloss and black plastics, as well as brushed metal effects either side of the print tray and a red trim just under the scanner lid. Two paper trays feature, one each for 100 regular A4 sheets and another solely for 40 pieces of photo paper. It's a relief not to have to swap paper load outs, and the powered photo tray also conveniently removes the need to manually push sheets. We'd like to see dual-trays hit consumer printers as standard. A printer is unlikely to win any style awards, but Kodak have made a strong effort here to make the Hero 9.1 look tidy and sleek.
Only one physical button (the power one) sits on the Hero 9.1's control panel. The rest, including home, back, help and preview keys, are touch sensitive, illuminating when they can be used to navigate a corresponding function on the gorgeous 4.3 inch touchscreen. A touchscreen this big makes a massively good impression; it not only allows a full QWERTY keyboard to be displayed, making the Wi-Fi set up really simple, but also gives you a far more legible look at any snaps you plan to print off too using the Hero 9.1's front-mounted USB and memory card ports.
Setting up the printer is as simple as it gets. After removing a series of protective tags, inserting the print head and clicking in the two ink cartridges, it's just a matter of switching it on, installing the relevant drivers to your computer, and choosing whether to connect using a standard USB cable, or over Wi-Fi or Ethernet.
If you choose to go down the web-connected route, you also open up the ability to use Kodak's cloud printing service, that lets you send documents to be printed to the unit no matter where you are in the world. The Hero 9.1 is compatible with Google's Cloud Printing service, further expanding your on-the-go print options and effectively doing away with the need to ever have it permanently tethered to your desktop machine.
Though not class leading, the Kodak Hero's 9.1 print speed and quality remains solid. A 10-sheet set of single sided black-and-white text documents printed in two minutes and one second, while a twenty page set of single sided documents sped up noticeably, taking three minutes and 47 seconds. Duplex printing, as you'd expect, was noticeably slower, adding a good third onto the time to print the same documents on a single side. Duplex printing on the whole had some quirks, with the printer automatically reducing the print size by a noticeable margin. Be sure to extend your page margins manually before printing duplex pages as a result, or you'll end up with considerable space around the edges of your prints. In all tests however, text was crisp and sharp.
Colour prints were considerably slower, but we were surprised at the snappy speed of photo prints. In just 45 seconds we had a 4 x 6 inch holiday snap sitting in our hands, ready to be tucked inside an album. Colour print quality was mostly great, delivering really vibrant, rich colours that shone on photo paper. There were a few isolated cases of banding (and dotting for those anally examining their photos with a magnifying glass), but overall it was an impressive show from the Hero 9.1.
The Hero 9.1 is fairly cost effective too, working out at roughly 2.25p per black and white sheet and 3.8p for colour prints, including paper costs. However, when it comes to colour prints you could argue that that figure could erratically jump. The Kodak Hero 9.1 uses a single cartridge for all of its colour pools. Should one run out quicker than the rest, you're going to have to swap out all the colours and abandon any reserves they may have left.
Lastly, printing and scanning. The scanner lid has an automatic document feeder, letting you scan multiple sheets in one go without having to replace each one manually. There's also a small hinge on the scanner lid, letting you more comfortable accommodate a book or magazine for scanning purposes. The 9.1 only manages single-side scanning however. Still, the scanner has a solid 2400dpi optical resolution, delivering accurate colour and detail levels. Copying capabilities are just as impressive, delivering a black and white sheet with great accuracy in just 17 seconds.
It's not the cheapest all-in-one on the market, nor the fastest, but the Kodak Hero 9.1 does deliver solid print and scanning results, as well as offering a premium feature set that you'll be hard pressed to comprehensively find elsewhere. The single cartridge for all colours however is a disappointment; while it may ease the set-up process, it does mean you wont be able to eke the very last drops out of of each colour pool should one run dry.