The Hero 5.1 slots in at the bottom of Kodak's latest upmarket range of all-in-one inkjet printers. Priced at around £100, it's relatively expensive, but it does offer a decent range of features, including Wi-Fi, a colour screen, automatic two-sided printing and a card-reader slot.
As with the other models in the Hero range, this one features a bold new design. The main body of the printer is matte black, but there are glossy highlights on the control panel and the band across the front. Kodak has also added a red accent on the lip of the scanner lid and slapped brushed-metal paint on the panels that flank the paper tray. Overall, the 5.1 isn't quite as attractive as the higher-end Hero 7.1, but it still looks pretty flash.
The front is home to a memory-card reader that accepts Memory Stick, as well as SD and MMC, cards. Next to this, you'll find the PictBridge-compatible USB port, so you can plug your camera directly into the printer. The colour screen is handy for choosing photos that you want to print from your camera cards, but it's on the small side, so you can't make out very much detail in your snaps.
The paper feeder takes up to 100 sheets at a time, and the printed results are spewed out into a telescopic tray that sits directly on top of the feeder. Unlike the 7.1, the 5.1 doesn't have a separate photo-paper tray, so, when you want to print photos, you have to remove your A4 sheets first.
The 5.1 is quick and easy to set up. The instructions provided with the printer are easy to follow and the software installer automatically checks for new updates before installing the driver software and Kodak's Home Center application.
Home Center includes various creative tools. For example, it lets you print 3D pictures that you can then view with the included anaglyph 3D glasses. Home Center also allows you to configure the printer from your PC, and set up cloud printing, using either Google's cloud-printer service or Kodak's own email printing option.
Scanning and copying
The flatbed scanner has an optical resolution of 1,200dpi and you can scan to a computer, memory card, USB drive, network drive or email address. Scan results retain plenty of detail and colours are quite accurate too.
There's also a copier function. The printer took just 20 seconds to produce a good-quality black and white copy of our test document.
Print speed, quality and cost
The 5.1's main weakness in comparison to its rivals is its slow print speeds. It took 2 minutes and 50 seconds to produce our ten-page black and white text document, whereas Epson's cheaper Stylus SX425W managed to complete the same task in 1 minute and 48 seconds. As you'd expect, selecting the two-sided printing option increases the print time by a significant margin.
The 5.1 was also slow to print our ten-page colour business presentation, taking 3 minutes and 36 seconds, while printing ten copies of our colour graphics test document took 3 minutes and 58 seconds. Photo printing is much faster, though, rivalling other manufacturers' models. The 5.1 produced a 4- by 6-inch snap in 49 seconds.
Thankfully, the 5.1's print quality is very impressive. Black text looks dark and detailed on the page, with no nasty smudging. Colour documents also look excellent -- there's little or no banding in large blocks of colour and images are strong on detail. Photo prints also look great, with vivid colours and impressive levels of sharpness.
Most impressive of all, though, is this model's low print costs. A black and white page works out at just 2.5p, while a colour page is far cheaper than the competition, at 4p per page. Both these prices include 0.7p for paper costs. Regardless of these low costs, it's slightly annoying that this printer uses a single colour cartridge, as, if one colour runs out, you have to replace the whole thing.
The Kodak Hero 5.1 certainly isn't the printer to buy if speed is your primary concern. But, if you're more interested in achieving low print costs and good-quality output, this stylish machine will be a good bet.
Edited by Charles Kloet