Kodak Hero 5.1 full review

With the Hero series, Kodak is trying to reinvent the all-in-one printer. The status quo has been that you pay peanuts for hardware and a packet for the ink. Kodak’s printers are a little more expensive, but running costs are refreshingly low.

The Hero 5.1 is a great entry point into the series. A combined printer and scanner that’s good for home use, with stylish contemporary looks and a compact footprint. From launch we were reassured by an easy set-up and installation process. There are just two cartridges - one colour and one black. That makes set-up easy, but it does mean you have to replace an entire cartridge if one colour runs out.

The quality of results is pretty consistent in printing, scanning and copying. It handles photographic imagery well, with strong blacks and no evidence of the banding that you sometimes find in other printers. It can even print on both sides of the paper. There’s some payback for this though. Printing’s a little slower than we’ve come to expect from modern inkjets.

While quality is important, one of the Hero 5.1’s main claims to greatness is the economical way it uses ink. An issue for many modern inkjets, Kodak’s Hero series are inexpensive to run - with low total replacement cost when you use Kodak 30 series cartridges. The cost per page is low too, thanks in part to Smart Sensor technology that cuts down wastage.

Of course, this is an all-in-one, not just a printer. The built-in 1200 dpi scanner turns out detailed results that maintain colour fidelity. As for copying, we were able to scan and print a test document in just under twenty seconds.

The Hero 5.1 does all the basics well so it’s a pleasure to report some features that set it apart from other all-in-ones. Wi-Fi printing means fewer cables cluttering up your study. The Heros are not the first printer range to do this, but there are lots of Wi-Fi enabled features.

With Google Cloud Printing, it goes a step further. You can print from anywhere that you have an Internet connection. That’s not all. With Kodak’s free Pic Flick app, you also print from your iOS device, Android phone or Blackberry. You can even email documents to your printer.

Modern printers need more than simple USB connectivity and the Hero 5.1 has all the ports you need to print pictures anytime. The front USB port is PictBridge compatible, enabling you to plug in your camera and just start printing without a computer. There’s a slot for memory cards too. It works with SD, SDHC, MMC and Memory Stick Pro formats. You will need an adaptor to plug in miniSD and microSD cards though.

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