May 7, 2008 -- In the early days of computing, printing was somewhat of an indulgence. Offices installed laser printers that cost up to $1,200 so that workers could print important memos and resumes when nobody was looking.
Today, everyone wants a home printer to print MapQuest directions, Rachael Ray recipes and photos from their digital cameras. What goes in must come out, and the market for color inkjet printers is growing.
Printer manufacturers, always sensitive to cost-conscious consumers, decided to sell inexpensive inkjet printers and make up the difference with ink costs. Many companies now offer quality color printers, capable of printing photos, for less than $100, but when it's time to spend an additional $100 every few weeks to replace the black and color ink cartridges, there is often sticker shock.
That's why you should look at buying Mom and Dad the Kodak EasyShare 5300, a multi-function printer that accepts extremely inexpensive Kodak inks without compromising quality. If you spend a little more on the printer ($150), you won't get stuck with an astronomical bill for the consumables (ink and paper).
The 5300 is a printer/scanner/copier that has a color screen to help you print directly from the card slots on the front or even directly from cameras with PictBridge abilities. The design is solid and completely white.
I wish the paper tray could hold more sheets for everyday printing, but I appreciate the separate enclosure for simple printing on 4-by-6-inch photo paper. The printer recognizes paper size and will adjust prints to fit the photo paper.
Kodak sells black ink refills for $9.99 and five-ink color cartridges for $14.99. Kodak claims you'll save 50 percent on their ink compared to competitors. For $5 of ink, the company says you can print 52 color 4-by-6-inch photos vs. only 18 with an Epson or HP printer.
I found the quality to be more than acceptable and appreciated the ability to print, scan and copy in a single machine. Kodak saves consumers money by leaving the print head in the printer, requiring less manufacturing in the ink cartridges. However, I would like Kodak to include postage paid envelopes to return used cartridges like HP does.