Kodak has built a reputation for offering a low claimed cost per page for its MFPs (multifunction printers). So it's no surprise that the Kodak ESP C310 All In One Printer offers a relatively low running cost too. It differs from other Kodak printers, however, in that it also offers a low price tag for the printer itself, – it’s available for under £50 online - which makes it a particularly attractive choice.
With most Kodak models, the low cost per page has been balanced by a relative high initial price for the printer. If you don't print much, that high initial price could mean that the total cost of ownership would be higher than for printers that are more expensive to run, but are cheaper to buy. With the C310, the more relevant point is that it claims a lower running cost than other printers in its price and performance class.
The C310's attractiveness also depends on whether it gives you all the features you need. Clearly aimed at home use, with high-quality photos and fast photo print speed as two of its strongest features, the C310 prints, scans, and copies, and it connects by either USB cable or Wi-Fi. Also in the category of photo-centric features is the ability to print from PictBridge cameras and memory cards, as well as preview photos on its 1.5in LCD screen before printing. Its potential for a home office is limited to decidedly light use, with a 100-sheet paper tray, no fax features, and no automatic document feeder for scanning.
Photo speed and quality are two of the C310's strong points. It also did well on speed for business applications. However, output quality for business apps is somewhat below par.
For my tests, I connected the printer by USB cable to a Windows Vista system. On our business applications suite (using QualityLogic's hardware and software for timing), I clocked it at an effective speed of 2.7-pages per minute (ppm).
Not surprisingly, since Kodak uses essentially the same engine in its printers across the same generation, the speed is similar to more expensive Kodak models. And while that speed could be considered slow for a printer costing considerably more, it’s pretty nippy for a device at this price point. Photo speed is even more impressive, averaging 44 seconds for each 4 x 6in print. Few inkjets at any price average less than a minute per photo in their highest quality mode.
Both text and graphics output are just below par for inkjet MFPs, but still more than acceptable for most purposes. For text, unless you have an unusual need for small fonts, you shouldn't have any complaints. The most important issue for graphics was a tendency in default mode for banding to show in large, dark areas. Aside from the banding, however, the output quality was easily a match for most inkjets. I also saw a tendency for full page graphics to curl the multipurpose plain paper we use in our tests, which means you may need to invest in a more expensive, heavy weight paper to avoid this.
Although the C310 isn't Kodak's most capable printer to date in absolute terms, it's unquestionably the best in terms of bang for the buck. Compared with the other printers in the same price range, it delivers fast speed, particularly for photos; high-quality photos, which is the kind of output that matters most for a home printer; and both a low purchase price and low running cost. The combination is a great fit for home use.
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