*NEWS*IT’S KODAK VS. HP IN PRINTER WARS

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*NEWS*IT’S KODAK VS. HP IN PRINTER WARS

 user 2007-05-02 at 12:27:00 pm Views: 94
  • #18189

    It’s Kodak vs. H-P in printer wars
    Kodak’s new printer is a good start
    As
    part of its long, rocky journey from film to digital photography, Kodak
    just introduced a line of home inkjet printers. The company has decided
    to go after its rival Hewlett-Packard, which dominates consumer inkjet
    printing.Kodak’s main weapon in this new war is cheaper ink.
    Traditionally, H-P and other makers have sold the printers for
    relatively little, then made most or all of their money on the ink
    cartridges.So, Kodak decided to reverse that business model. Its three
    new printers start at $149.99, not sub-$100 bargain prices. But its
    black ink cartridges cost just $9.99, and the color ones — which
    combine five color inks — just $14.99. And these are standard-capacity
    cartridges, not small or starter versions. Comparable H-P cartridges
    vary in price, but can easily cost double that, or more.

    Kodak
    hopes consumers will be willing to spend more upfront for the printer
    to save later on the ink.In a counter-move, H-P announced Tuesday that
    it will also be introducing new lower-price cartridges. But these new
    low-end cartridges will work only on future printers (and a few very
    recent models). And they will hold less ink than today’s standard.
    Plus, they will still cost more than Kodak’s cartridges: $14.99 for
    black and $17.99 for the combined color versions. H-P will also start
    selling larger-capacity “value” cartridges for the new printers that
    will cost about twice as much as the low-end ink, but print up to
    triple the number of pages.How good are Kodak’s new printers? After
    all, cheaper ink isn’t really a bargain if the printer is lousy. To
    find out, I’ve been testing Kodak’s midrange model, the EasyShare 5300,
    which costs $199.99. It’s an “all-in-one” machine that combines a
    printer with a flatbed copier and scanner.I compared this new Kodak
    with a roughly comparable all-in-one H-P model, the Photosmart C6180.
    This particular H-P model costs $100 more than the Kodak, because it
    includes some additional features. But H-P says that this printer has
    the same printing, scanning and copying quality and speeds, in the
    typical scenarios I tested, as H-P’s C5180, the direct competitor of
    the Kodak 5300, which costs the same.My conclusion was that the Kodak
    EasyShare 5300 is a pretty good printer, with a good enough combination
    of quality, speed and functionality to satisfy people attracted by the
    lower ink costs. In my tests, it was better than the H-P at some things
    and worse at others.One caveat: I didn’t try to verify Kodak’s claim
    that, overall, its printouts cost a lot less than H-P’s. Such claims
    depend on very specific sorts of test files produced and tested in
    labs. H-P disputes Kodak’s testing methodology and claims that Kodak’s
    printout costs are “about the same or only slightly lower than
    H-P’s.”Also, the particular H-P models with which the Kodak printers
    most closely compare use a different ink system than most other H-P
    home inkjet printers. Instead of using one combined color cartridge
    that can cost over $30, they use five smaller separate ones that cost
    $9.99 each.I decided to avoid settling this technical dispute and to
    just judge the printers using home photos and text pages from Microsoft
    Office that I considered typical. I used both printers at normal
    quality levels and didn’t enable any special quality or speed settings.
    I tested them with a Windows XP computer, though both printers also
    work with Macs and with the new Windows Vista.In general, the H-P was a
    little faster, but not dramatically so. And the H-P has built-in
    networking, while the Kodak doesn’t. The H-P also has a better user
    interface, in my opinion. Kodak’s can be clumsy.But the Kodak has a
    cool scanning feature the H-P lacks. You can place three or four photos
    on its glass plate at once and the printer will separate them
    automatically into individual images and scan them as separate files —
    as long as they aren’t aligned too crookedly. To do this on the H-P,
    you must manually draw lines around each photo with the H-P
    software.When I compared plain-paper printouts, in black and white, and
    color, the printers were about equal in quality. The H-P was a tad
    faster, but the Kodak was plenty quick.On photos, I had a mixed result.
    The 4×6 snapshots of family scenes came out better, to my eye, on the
    Kodak. They seemed sharper and brighter than the same files printed on
    the H-P. But I had just the opposite result when scanning several
    20-year-old photos into the two machines. The resulting files produced
    by the H-P seemed sharper and brighter. The Kodak scans, while warmer,
    seemed fuzzier.The worst feature of the Kodak is the way it switches
    between its plain-paper feed tray and its special separate tray for 4×6
    snapshot-size photo paper. On the Kodak, you must manually push in and
    pull out the photo tray to switch between types of paper. The H-P
    handles this switch without any pushing or pulling.Overall, however,
    the Kodak is a good enough first effort to get the company into the
    game.