Kodak EasyShare 5300 multifunction ink-jet printer

The Kodak EasyShare 5300 is a multifunction device that features scanning, copying, and printing capabilities. It also comes with a special promise from Kodak: the company asserts that this multifunction printer will save you money on ink, thus reducing the cost per print. The EasyShare 5300 utilizes a two-cartridge, six-ink system; the total cost for an ink refill is only $25 ($10 for black and $15 for five-ink color). And although you’ll save money in the long run, there won’t be a compromise in the quality of your scans and prints. In my testing, the EasyShare 5300 was a solid performer, with the exception of a minor scanning glitch that Kodak says it plans to fix in a software update soon.

If you’d like more options, Kodak provides two more models in the EasyShare 5000 series. The base model, the $150 EasyShare 5100, sports the same features as the EasyShare 5300 except for the LCD screen and photo-card reader. The top-of-the-line model, the EasyShare 5500, costs $300 and adds duplexing, an automatic document feeder, and a fax.

The EasyShare 5300 is slightly bulky, weighing 21 pounds, but setting it up is a breeze. The two-cartridge ink system certainly makes ink installation easy. When I’ve tested other printers with two-cartridge ink systems, I usually needed to swap out the standard color cartridge with a photo-color cartridge whenever I wanted to print photos. Kodak’s color cartridge contains five inks (cyan, magenta, yellow, black, and a protective coating for photos), so it relieves you of the hassle of cartridge swapping. After you insert the cartridges, perform a quick scanner alignment procedure, and install the MFP’s drivers, the EasyShare 5300 is ready to print, scan, and copy.

The Kodak EasyShare software for the Mac included with the printer contains some imperfections. When scanning a black-and-white document at 1,200 dpi, the scanning application crashed. Kodak officials were able to replicate this error, adding that their software team is working on a fix. If you encounter this problem, you should try downloading the most up-to-date version of the printer’s driver from the Support Center. (If all else fails, you can scan in 1,200-dpi color mode and use an image-editing application to convert to black and white.)

You can use the EasyShare 5300’s control panel to perform a quick print, scan, or copy. A bright, three-inch LCD screen displays an intuitive menu, which is easily navigable using an arrow-button system. You can also print your photos using the EasyShare 5300’s photo-card reader on the front of the MFP (compatible with xD, SD, CF, and Memory Stick) or via PictBridge.

Despite the low cost of its ink cartridges, the EasyShare 5300’s print quality is impressive. Our panel of experts gave the MFP’s photo-print quality a rating of Very Good: colors were very pleasing, shadow detail was excellent, and the image was crisp and clean overall. The MFP’s text quality was decent: fonts looked smooth, but some skinny capital letters of the alphabet, such as N, were slightly jagged. Text quality received a Good rating from our jury.

The EasyShare 5300’s scanner is also quite good. Interestingly, Kodak representatives declined to disclose the optical scan resolution of the EasyShare 5300. In any case, when scanning a color photo at 600 dpi, colors reproduced accurately, and the image overall was rich in detail, earning a Very Good rating. In our 1,200-dpi scan of a line chart to test the scanner’s resolution, the results were impressive, except for a few irregularities found in extremely fine lines. This earned the scanner’s clarity a Very Good rating.

To test the EasyShare 5300’s copier, we copied a Macworld magazine cover. Gradients looked a little flushed, and small bands could be seen throughout the image. The test copy’s colors also appeared slightly oversaturated. The EasyShare 5300’s copier earned a Fair rating.

The EasyShare 5300’s print speeds are slower than those of most ink-jet printers we’ve tested. It took 43 seconds to print a 1-page Word document, 3 minutes and 44 seconds to print a 10-page Word document, 1 minute and 57 seconds to print a 22MB Photoshop image, and 2 minutes to print a 4-page PDF.

As for the scanner, the MFP is very fast when performing 600-dpi scans. It took only 13 seconds to scan an 8-by-10-inch photo. However, the EasyShare 5300 was very slow with 1,200-dpi scans. As mentioned, imperfections in the scanner driver caused problems when scanning at 1,200 dpi. Although I was able to scan a photo in color, it took 5 minutes and 27 seconds for the scan to complete. I’m confident that this is a software issue related to the bug I found, which Kodak said would be fixed in the MFP’s next driver update.

jury tests: print

Graphics: Fine lines and gradients Very Good
22MB Photoshop image guality Very Good
Text quality Good

jury tests: scan/copy

Color Very Good
Clarity Very Good
Copy Fair

Scale = Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor.

jury tests: print

10-page Word test 3:44
1-page Word test 0:43
22MB Photoshop image 1:57
4-page PDF 2:00

jury tests: scan

8-by-10-inch photo, 600-dpi scan 0:13
4-by-6-inch photo, 1,200-dpi scan 5:27

Times are in minutes:seconds.

How we tested: We ran all tests with the multifunction printer connected via USB 2.0 to a 2.66GHz Mac Pro with Mac OS X 10.4.10 installed and 1GB of RAM. We recorded the time it took the MFP to print a 1-page Word document and a 10-page Word document, as well as the time it took to print a 22MB Photoshop image and a 4-page PDF. We then recorded the time it took to scan an 8-by-10-inch photo at 600 dpi, as well as the time it took to scan a 4-by-6-inch photo at 600 dpi. A panel of experts examined sample output of the MFP to evaluate its print, scan, and copy quality as either Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, or Poor in comparison to the output of past MFPs we’ve tested.—Macworld Lab Testing by Brian Chen

specifications

Print resolution Not disclosed by Kodak
Scan resolution: optical Not disclosed by Kodak
Max scanning bit depth 24-bit color; 8-bit grayscale
Connection USB 2.0
Paper sizes 3.5 x 5, 4 x 6, 4 x 8, 4 x 12, 5 x 7, 6 x 9, 8 x 10, A, A4
Cost to replace ink/toner cartridges $25 ($10 for black; $15 for 5-ink color cartridge)
Memory cards xD, SD, CF, and Memory Stick
Weight (in pounds) 21.3
Dimensions (height x depth x width, in inches) 8.8 x 14.7 x 18.8
Paper capacity 100 sheets
Special features 4 x 6 photo tray

Macworld’s buying advice

The Kodak EasyShare 5300’s impressive performance in printing, scanning, and copying adds up to a solid all-around device, and the low cost to refill it with ink adds extra value. Despite the flaws I found in its scanner software, the EasyShare 5300 is an impressive MFP that represents a strong start for Kodak in the consumer ink-jet printer market.

[ Brian Chen is an assistant editor at Macworld.]

Kodak EasyShare 5300

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