The Kodak Hero 9.1 is the top-of-the-range, consumer-focused model in Kodak's new line-up of printers. Its headline features include double-sided printing, colour touchscreen control, a dedicated photo paper tray and Wi-Fi and Ethernet support. You can buy it direct form Kodak's online store for £200.
The Kodak Hero 9.1 follows pretty closely the design aesthetic of the three previous Hero models. The chassis is essentially a big rectangle that's finished in gloss and matte black. However, Kodak has also added a brushed metal effect to the two plastic panels on either side of the paper tray as well as an attractive red highlight that runs along the edge of the scanner lid. It all adds up to quite a premium look.
The premium feel is further enhanced by this model's 4.3-inch touchscreen. This is huge compared to most other printers on the market and is a real boon when it comes to selecting pictures that you want to print from this model's front-mounted memory card reader or USB port. It also makes setting up and using the printer a cinch. For example, when you're configuring Wi-Fi on the printer, there's a full Qwerty keyboard displayed onscreen, making it speedy to enter you network password.
Unlike a lot of models that we see, the Hero 9.1's paper tray has two compartments -- one for standard A4 sheets and a second one just for photo paper. This means that you don't have to take out your pile of standard paper when you just want to print off a couple of snaps. The photo paper tray is powered as well, so you don't need to manually push it. The paper tray holds 100 standard sheets, which although not huge, should be enough for small office duties. The photo tray holds 40 sheets.
If you hook the printer up via Ethernet or Wi-Fi you can take advantage of Kodak's cloud printing service that lets you email documents to the printer from pretty much anywhere in the world. The printer is also Google Cloud ready, so you can use it with Google's Cloud Printing service without having to have it always connected to a PC.
Setting it up
As with the previous Hero models, the set-up process for this one is very straightforward. It's really just a matter of taking off all the protective tags, turning it on and inserting the semi-permanent printhead and then mounting the two ink cartridges, which click firmly into place. Once that's done, you can load up the drivers on your PC and choose to connect it to your computer either via Wi-Fi, Ethernet or directly using USB. You can set up Wi-Fi and Ethernet directly from the printer, but you'll still need to load the drivers on your computer in order to send jobs to the printer.
Scanning and copying
The scanner lid houses an automatic document feeder. This lets you to scan or fax multi-page documents without requiring you to manually place each sheet on the glass surface. It can only deal with one side of a page, whereas Kodak's Office Hero 6.1 can copy or scan both sides automatically.
The scanner has an optical resolution of 2400dpi and its hinge can be lifted to allow you to scan books and magazines. Scan results are generally good as the level of detail it captures is above average and colour are refreshingly accurate.
The scanner also helps the printer produce pretty speedy photocopies -- it took just 18 seconds to deliver a black and white copy of our test page. The copy quality was fairly good too, as it managed to retain a lot of detail in the pictures on the page.
Print speed, quality and cost
When it came to our speed tests the Kodak Hero 9.1 was certainly not the fastest model around, but it is speedier than other models in the Hero range. It took one minute and 58 seconds to complete our ten-page black-and-white text document, which is around 50 seconds faster than the Hero 6.1 and Hero 5.1 models. Duplex printing was slower -- five double-sided pages of the same document took two minutes and ten seconds. That's about half a minute slower than its siblings.
Our colour graphics and business presentation tests were completed in three minutes and 32 seconds and two minutes and 54 seconds respectively, which again is not all that quick. Thankfully, it's faster when it comes to photo printing as it took 47 seconds to complete our 4x6-inch snap.
Print quality was quite good. Black text was very crisp and sharp, but unfortunately there was some banding on blocks of colour in our graphics and business presentation tests. Nevertheless, colours were quite bold and natural looking. Photos were also impressively rich and vivid.
The printer uses just two cartridges: one for black ink and another combined one for colour. Combined colour cartridges are far from ideal, as if you run out of one ink colour you have to replace the whole thing. Nevertheless, this printer is still likely to prove quite cheap to run over the longer term. A black-and-white page works out at 2.25p, while colour pages will set you back around 3.8p each. Both of these figures include 0.7p for paper costs.
The Hero 9.1 covers off pretty much all the features more demanding users could want from an inkjet printer. The large touchscreen makes it easy to use, its support for cloud printing is useful and it produces good quality output. Only its use of a combined colour cartridge and its slightly sluggish print speed blot its copy book.