The Kodak ESP 3250 is at the low rung of the Kodak ESP line. This photo printer retails for about £100. But for the money, you cannot go wrong for sure. While the Kodak ESP 3250 did not perform quite as well as the Epson Artisan 810 or the Brother MFC-255CW, it was no slouch either. We have never been a big fan of the All-in-One concept, believing that it was at best a trade-off between footprint and flexibility. For those who have been increasingly frustrated with the money spent on ink cartridges for other printers. The Kodak ESP3250 printer is advertised to address their concerns and with this review, we will find out if that is true.

Product features:

At first sight, the Kodak ESP 3250 All-in-One Photo Printer looks as if it is 3,247 model numbers, a shy away from the Kodak ESP 3, but one would be better thinking of the ESP 3250 like an ESP 3.250. It is a small facelift and cost hike on the brand’s entry level multifunction one. Built on the lines of the ESP 3, the new machine comes with a quite similar, all black case with a rather odd concave front panel and flat, frosted top surface.  There is a simple control panel that is set into a panel you can find to the right of the flatbed scanner. The control panel is built with a useful 38mm LCD screen, the major aspect distinguishing the Kodak ESP 3250 from its inexpensive sibling. While the 1.5-inch LCD is comparatively small, the ESP 3250 carefully highlights the menu item that you have selected in the form of bright-red band of colour. The price of the machine up-front is pretty low and you will not be hit that hard each time when  you have to replace the ink cartridges, because they provide an economical price per-page for an inkjet-based machine. While, in contrast, the ESP 3250  is one of the slowest models that we have tested in recent times and you will not get such features like  a big LCD screen, Wi-Fi connectivity, multiple paper-intake slots or fax capabilities. The little footprint 422 mm (W) × 300 mm (D) × 175 (H) mm (16.6” × 11.8” × 6.9”) makes it a lot more simple for positioning the machine nearby, which certainly is a nice thing as the lone connection option is a USB connector cable.

Kodak ESP 3250 Photo Printer

Display features:

The LCD display is angled right into the top face of the printer. This means you will have no real trouble reading it from fairly a wide angle, although you are not seated beside the printer model. You can also find a slot in the front face of the machine directly in line with the control panel, which takes MemoryStick and SD, though not xD cards. Therefore you will need an adaptor, if you like to make use of it for printing pictures from the Fujifilm media. Furthermore, the printer is short of dedicated copy, print and scan control buttons. You will have to choose the appropriate functions from the control menus with the help of cursor movements. On testing, we found that the cursor buttons feature a fine, perceptible feel and the control array of 10-button control is well-labelled and logically positioned. Generally speaking, besides the tiny LCD, the printer is rather well-built and simple to navigate.

Using the ESP 3250:

Before you could use the machine, you should load it with paper and one may find the feed and output trays function in the same way as the HP does. Just fold down the front panel’s centre section and it turns out to be paper tray, into which the photo or plain paper can be loaded from 15 x 10cm up to A4 sizes. The pages are then fed into the printer, making a 180-degree turn before you feed out to lie flat on the top of the device’s input paper stack. There is an extending paper support that could stop pages falling to the desk.

Connectivity:

There is a single USB socket at the back of the printer and it is the only means of transferring the data to the Kodak ESP 3250 Multifunction Inkjet Printer. You will find a low-voltage socket meant for the black-block power supply which surprisingly has a short mains lead.

Ink cartridge compatibility:

Like all of the Kodak’s multifunction printers, this model too makes use of a simple, but well-designed print engine, where the print head is built into the machine and itself holds twin ink cartridges, in contrast to being embedded into each cartridge. There are three cartridges, the first of which is the pigmented black-ink that is followed by a 4 colour cartridge including a black that is meant for photos. Having a special black cartridge can prove useful as it will save some bucks if you are someone who does more of text printing. The dye-based cartridge is useful for photo printing and graphics. The feature is a big plus as their cartridges cost much less than those sold by other printer brands. On the other hand, having a single cartridge built with all the colour inks will cost you some extra bucks if you print in one colour for the most part. For example, if you use much of blue for photographs of the water or sky, you need to replace the complete cartridge, though considerable quantities of other unused or less used colours remain in the printer cartridge.

Easy to maintain:

The Kodak ESP 3250 Printer, Copier & Scanner machine is quite simple to maintain and the simplicity has enabled the brand keep the consumable costs reasonably down, something that has now made its unique selling point for the complete multifunction printer range. Once you clip the ink cartridges into place, the printer makes an automatic, one-off calibration print which is when it is ready for you to use.

Print speed of ESP 3250:

For many users, speed is not everything. The manufacturer claims quite silly speed for all multi-function printers, especially if you print in normal mode than draft mode. The machine top speed is said to be 29ppm for colour pages and 30ppm for black pages, but our 5-page text only took about 1:06, a print speed of 4.54ppm and the equivalent graphics document or five-page text took about 1:42, or a print speed of 2.94ppm. We found the 20-page black text print had the fastest print of the lot at a speed of 5.11ppm. With a mixed text-and-graphics document of 10 pages in ‘Best’ mode, the Kodak ESP 3250 came in at 7 minutes and 46 seconds, which is about 1 minute slower than the Photosmart C4780 and 3 minutes slower than the Impact S305.  The photo-printing speeds were a bit more competitive. Printing an 8.5” x11” test image onto the Kodak photo paper with the auto setting (the only option) took 2 minutes and 22 seconds and this is double the time taken by HP Photosmart Plus and about 30 seconds comparatively slower than the Epson Stylus NX515. These speeds are not bad by any standards for a photo printer that costs under £100; therefore it is a shame that Kodak has to overdo the facts with these seemingly unrealistic claims.

Print cost:

The manufacturer claims to save you an average of £75 per year, compared to its main rivals. This average was calculated based on account differences in usage and does not need you to be printing reams of paper daily. The calculations also showed improvements in costs. With the cheapest prices, we can find for the two cartridges, the Kodak ESP 3250 provides costs of 5.46p for colour, 2.65p for an ISO black page and 0.7p for paper. Just compare the ESP 3250 to the likes of Canon PIXMA MP540, the HP OfficeJet 6500 and the Epson Stylus SX415, you will find that the relative page costs range from over double as much as the Kodak ESP 3250, to around 15% less. Though one can claim the HP Office Jet Pro 6500 is cheaper to run, it is considerably pricier to buy. Therefore, Kodak justifies its claim that it runs its machines much cheaper than some of its competition.

Paper capacity:

Another sign of the Kodak ESP 3250’s cheap price factor is its single paper-intake tray as the printer tray holds 20 envelopes, 20 sheets of photo paper or 100 sheets of plain paper. You may see that the printed paper ejects on the top of the machine’s paper-intake tray concealing the remaining sheets left in the paper-intake tray from your view. The arrangement does not seem to get in the way of the paper coming in and out of the machine, however and seemingly, the shared space will help make the ESP 3250 printer more nice and compact. Disappointingly, if you fail to keep this printer level, the paper that is ejected could well fall onto the floor. The paper-intake tray is short of suitable side supports to guide the paper as it comes out, therefore if the machine is sloped to the right, left or forward, a page could rarely fall in that direction.

The Kodak ESP 3250 can take paper sizes of up to 8.5″x14″. The instruction manual tells that you should not attempt to make use of paper of size smaller than 4”x6”. The printer could auto-detect plain paper, transparencies and photo paper, no matter what the brand is. The brand’s photo paper comes with a bar code found on the back that will allow the machine to adjust the printer settings automatically for that particular sort of photo paper.

Setting up the printer:

Setting up the Kodak ESP 3250 All-in-One printer is fast and trouble-free, in part as there is no Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to bother with. The printer model is not shipped with a USB connector cable, so you will be required to supply USB connector cable (Type B) having a square-with-rounded-top, on one end and the much regular Type A USB connector on the other end. Kodak allows you to download a set-up instruction video whilst the CD can install the drivers and software. You can also find a link in the instruction manual if you have to download the CD contents straight to your PC, which will be useful if your computer system lacks a CD drive. We also found the 2 ink cartridges differently sized and clearly labelled.  We got a little black ink on the fingers when we were installing the printer cartridges, therefore keep your fingers at a distance from the ink openings that you may find at the bottom of the cartridges.

Kodak Home Centre:

The Kodak Home Center software that comes with the printer offers Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and photo editing capabilities. On Windows, this software is a totally integrated solution which helps you to set your own defaults for the machine, run maintenance utilities, receive help and also functions as a launchpad for the scanning and printing tasks with easy walkthroughs of basic printing, scanning and/or photo-retouching functions. If you are a Mac user, the Kodak Home Centre will let you change settings, set defaults, get help but does not incorporate direct access to printing or scanning. Instead it is nicely integrated into the OSX itself. Just for an example, you could initiate and control a scan from within the Image capture or Preview or any other scanner-aware application.

Copying & scanning functions:

The AIO’s scanning and copying functions were quite straightforward, as you get several options to select amongst other than the basics. One also gets the option to choose the paper size, plain-paper quality, copy size and brightness for photo copies. The Kodak ESP 3250 is built with the capability to automatically detect the photo paper and select the best quality printer setting, if you select to copy your photograph to photo paper. When you are scanning, you can select white, black, colour or gray scale, in addition to the scan resolution with up to 1200dpi (dots per inch) and 24-bit colour. Kodak brings you a reasonable choice of file formats for all your scanned photos and documents. There is no option as such if you want to auto-load the scanned file into a particular application; however you can select the folder where you can save all the scanned files.

Copy & scan time:

The copy and scan times were quite sluggish. The ESP 3250 could copy a one-page monochrome text document in about 25 seconds, which is a little slower than the Impact S305, but almost double the Photosmart C4780. We were able to scan a text document with the ESP 3250 compared to 16 seconds with the Photosmart C4780 and 18 seconds with the Impact S305 printer.

Noise level:

The ESP 3250 is about average in producing noise when you are printing and it did not shake excessively. Because the printer has the ability to automatically detect the Kodak- photo paper, we found it a little disconcerting to not have any options for print-quality available with that paper. Kodak is of the claim that the print quality was optimized for its very own photo paper and correctly points out that a few users would like to make use of draft mode with high priced photo paper. In our tests, we had photo paper and plain paper alike jam in the machine occasionally. If that occurs, you will have no trouble removing the paper that is jammed inside.

Print quality:

On testing the machine, we found that it took 1:08 for a 15cm x 10cm print and 58 seconds from an SD card. These are really good speeds for photo prints and the resultant images are also without any scratches. There is a plenty of detail in the images and the colours are natural too, if a bit dark in areas of shadow. We found one of the images showing some slight banding. Said this they were better than adequate, so no problem here. The same thing goes for graphics on plain paper, although you can see some signs of under-taking in certain areas of solid colour, therefore the paper fibres showed through to create a little speckling. We were pretty satisfied with the colour copy from the 1,200ppi flat-bed, although the orange and yellow shades seemed a little muddy. The black is appreciably clean, though we saw a couple of places where there was a slight print displacement from one pass to the subsequent one. While the printed text was nicely formed and legible even when reduced to 3 points in size, it was apparently lower than with competing inkjet printers. Our 10-page text-and-graphics document had embedded graphics looking too light with the colours less than accurate. Flesh tones seem to tend toward yellow; however the pixels in the graphics were accurately placed without obvious distortion. The graphics in the copied documents showed similar characteristics.

The Kodak ESP 3250 did much better when printing photos to photo paper. The colours were quite accurate with nicely balanced blacks and whites. In addition, the contrast was not much heavy as is at times the case with photos printed on an AIO. A big advantage for the photo is the longevity of the printer inks. As estimated by the Wilhelm Imaging Research, the pigment inks made use in the Kodak ESP printers should withstand fading for 120 years or more, if you store the photos in an album or away from direct light.

Package Contents:

KODAK ESP 3250 All-in-One Printer, KODAK Colour Ink Cartridge, KODAK Black Ink Cartridge, Adapter cord, Paper Sample Pack, Power supply, User Guide, Startup Guide and KODAK All-in-One Printer Software

Warranty Information:

The Printer, Printhead and Ink Cartridges are covered under a warranty of one year from the purchase date or 13 months from the manufacturing date against defects in workmanship, materials or packaging. To make claims under their comparable product replacement program, you may be asked to furnish proof of purchase details.

Bottom-line:

The photo printer fails to support some memory cards, but if you need or want more bells and whistles like a dedicated photo tray or an automatic duplexer, we are afraid, you will have to go up to ESP 7 from the makes of Kodak. Besides its modest buy, the Kodak ESP 3250 will not burn a hole in your pocket when it comes to replacing cartridges. They just cost a little around £11.99 for the colour cartridge and £6.99 for the black cartridge. The printer is shipped with a complete suite of full-capacity cartridge. Additionally, the page yields out of the printer cartridges for monochrome and mixed text & graphics indicate an excellent value. The results are exceptionally good, especially for an entry level AIO model. If you are on a stringent budget and the price of your inkjet printer’s consumables is a big concern, the ESP 3250 is an excellent choice, as long as you tolerate its dearth of high-end specifications and tolerate its slower speeds. The Kodak ESP 3250 copy and print quality can be much better with plain paper, therefore go for a better model if that is a bit of bother to you. Whereas, the quality of print is great, when compared to the long-lasting, inexpensive Kodak inks, the printer model comes as a decent option where both cost savings and photo quality are both imperative.

Kodak ESP 3250 Photo Printer – Technical Specification Table

Manufacturer Kodak
Model Name Kodak ESP 3250 All-in-One Photo Printer
Model Number ESP 3250
Printer Type Ink-jet (colour)
Multifunction Yes (printer/scanner/copier-colour)
Dimension 422 mm (W) × 300 mm (D) × 175 (H) mm (16.6” × 11.8” × 6.9”)
Print Speed B & W: Up to 30 ppm
Colour: Up to 29 ppm
Print Speed (Photo) 4″ x 6″ photo-quality print in 29 seconds
Resolution Black Printer: Up to 9600 x 2400 dpi
Colour Printer: Up to 9600 x 2400 dpi
Media Types Plain paper, envelopes, photo paper, card stock,
postcards, transparencies, iron-on transfers, labels
Media Sizes Standard documents up to 8.5″ x 14″
Borderless photos up to 8.5″ x 11″
Paper Capacity Input Paper Capacity: Up to 100 sheets
Output Paper Capacity: Up to 50 sheets
Type of Interface USB
Print Quality For photos, documents
Total Ink Tanks/Cartridge (included) 1 black, 1 tricolor
Total Print Heads 1
Print Modes Draft, best, normal
PC-Free Printing Yes
Paper Feeder Bottom loader
Bit Depth 24
Scanner Resolution (dpi) Up to 1200 dpi
Scanner Type Flatbed
Copier Speed B&W: Up to 25 cpm
Colour: Up to 25 cpm
Copier Resolution (dpi) Colour: Up to 9600 x 1200 dpi
Black: Up to 1200 x 1200 dpi
Multiple Copies Up to 99
Software Included Kodak AiO Home Centre, OCR Software, Driver
Reduction/Enlargement 25-400%
Supported Memory Card Formats Secure Digital (SD)/Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC),
Multimedia Card (MMC), MINI SD,
MEMORY STICK PRO (PRO)/ MEMORY STICK (MS)
Minimum System Requirements PC: Vista, Windows 7 or XP-Home (SP2 or higher);
Intel Celeron processor 1.2 GHz or above.
Mac: Mac OS X 10.4.8 or later.
Requirements: Processor 1.2GHz or above;
200MB hard disk space; 512MB RAM;
CD-ROM drive; USB 2.0 port
Wireless Networking No
Warranty (Printer, Printhead, Ink Cartridges) 1-year from purchase date
13 months from manufacturing date