The ESP 1.2 slots in at the bottom of Kodak's all-in-one printer range. Nevertheless, this model, which is priced at around £69, includes scanning and copying features and a small colour display.
Kodak claims that it's cheaper to run than competitors' models due to the lower price of its inks.
Design and features
Low-cost printers often look and feel like they were put together with leftovers from the factory floor, but the ESP 1.2 actually feels quite sturdy and doesn't look half bad either. The case is hewn entirely from plastic, but Kodak has sensibly gone for a mostly matte finish, so it doesn't show up fingerprint marks as badly as some other models I've used. The company has also added a couple of neat flashes of its corporate yellow across the front of the scanner lid and the perspex paper protector at the rear.
This model does have a colour screen, but it's not enabled for touch control. Instead, Kodak has added a number of touch buttons around the edge of the display that you use to navigate through the easy-to-understand menus. Beneath the screen is a handy multi-format card reader that can accept Memory Stick, MMC and SD cards. There's no PictBridge USB port, but that's understandable given this model's low price.
The printer's paper handling mechanism is standard for a budget model. You load the paper into a vertical tray at the rear and printed material is fed into a pull-out tray at the front. Both trays can be folded into the body of the machine to save on space when it's not being used.
Setting up the ESP 1.2 is quick and straightforward. Fitting the ink cartridges simply entails lifting up the scanner housing, installing the semi-permanent print head and then inserting the ink cartridges into it. The ESP 1.2 model only uses two cartridges -- one for black and one for colour -- and both simply click into place once you push them into their holders.
When you've got the ink cartridges installed, the next step is to pop the installation CD in your computer and load the drivers. You have two options to connect to a PC -- USB or Wi-Fi. Of the two, most people will probably choose the Wi-Fi option as it allows you to use the printer not just with your computer, but also with smart phones or tablets as well as Kodak and Google's cloud printing services. For tablets and smart phones, simply download the Kodak Pic Flick app for iOS, Android or BlackBerry devices. Unfortunately, Apple Airprint is not supported.
Setting up the printer to work with Kodak's own email print service and Google Cloud Printing is a breeze. Once registered with them, you can send print jobs to the ESP 1.2, either by emailing them to the printer's own secure address or by printing directly from within Google's chrome browser or app.
Scanning and copying
The ESP 1.2 has a traditional flatbed scanner but it doesn't have an automatic document feeder. The quality of scans is reasonably good and it captures impressive amounts of detail. Colours remain quite accurate.
The scanner is fairly fast too, which helps when it comes to photocopying. It copied my A4 test sheet in 18 seconds, which is quite speedy for a cheaper printer.
Print speed, quality and cost
The ESP 1.2's print speed isn't lightning fast, but it does manage to largely hold its own against similarly priced competitors. The printer took 1 minute 33 seconds to print CNET's 10-page black and white text document, and 2 minutes 41 seconds to finish the 10-page colour business presentation test.
When it came to my 10-page colour graphics test, it completed the job in 3 minutes 12 seconds, and pumped out a 6x4-inch photo print in a reasonable 53 seconds.
Black and white text print quality didn't look quite as dark as I would have liked. But while there was some feathering of ink into the page, the clarity of individual text characters wasn't too bad for a cheaper model.
Graphics print quality was quite good too, with well-defined edges, but colours could have been a little richer and bolder. Also, there was slight banding evident on larger, single colour blocks in my business presentation test.
It's not a bad performer with photo printing -- colours looked quite strong and rich, especially for a two-ink model. There was also a decent amount of detail in the darker areas of the image, which was welcome.
Using the high-capacity XL and CL cartridges, a black and white page works out at 2.5p per sheet, while a colour one comes in at 4.4p per page. These are reasonable costs, especially the colour printing.
The Kodak ESP 1.2 is a decent budget printer. It doesn't produce the best quality output I've ever seen, but the results are still more than acceptable for most people. I'd say it's especially worth considering if you need to print lots of colour pages as its colour ink cartridges are quite a lot cheaper than the competition.