Kodak Hero 9.1

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Maybe we’ve been watching too much Food Network, or we’re just working too hard, but this latest printer review kept reminding us to go to lunch. (It’s the name.)

In mid-2011, Kodak replaced its well-established ESP line of inkjet printers with its new “Hero” brand of single-function and multifunction models. Feature for feature, we haven’t seen a huge difference between the Heroes and the printers they’ve replaced. What we have seen, though, from our review of the $199.99 Office Hero 6.1 and this look at the Hero 9.1: These printers are not gourmet models. Instead, these Heroes would be Subway’s practical, do-the-job $5 foot-longs.

The Heroes provide a nice array of convenience and productivity features that most small businesses look for in an all-in-one (AIO) printer. Still, as with last year’s ESP models, we noted nothing ground-breaking in the Hero 9.1. But for small offices looking for “reliable” over “remarkable,” this printer is a contender.

For one thing, Kodak AIOs have seldom been accused of being particularly good-looking or fast. The Hero 9.1 prints slower than most models designed for home offices and small offices, in this or any other price range. (In mid-December 2011, Kodak and several other outlets were selling this AIO for $199.99, discounted from its $249.99 list price.) However, it churns out respectable-quality prints, copies, and scans. In addition, Kodak AIOs feature some of the lowest printing costs per page (CPP) on the market. In terms of ink consumption, Kodak printers are relatively inexpensive to use, making them a good value for home- and small-office environments where budgets are tight and enough printing must be done that ink costs matter.

In short, this AIO performed exactly as we expected a late-model Kodak printer to perform, consistently producing nice-enough business documents and photographs without requiring ruinously pricey supplies. If a super-fast inkjet is what you’re looking for, this is not your printer. If economical and practical is what you need from your AIO, though, this one is a strong choice.

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