Kodak’s Future Looks Brighter (And May Last Longer Now, Too)

Kodak’s Future Looks Brighter (And May Last Longer Now, Too)

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*February 5, 2007 *– In a major media push, Kodak announced yesterday a new line of All-in-One home inkjet printers, which utilize newly developed, low-cost, pigment-based inks. Chairman Antonio Perez hopes the new design will cause a major change in the printer industry by making inks more affordable and longer-lasting. The Easy Share 5100 ($149) and the 5300 ($199) are scheduled for a March release while the 5500 ($299) will make its debut in May. The new printers will be available via Kodak’s website and at Best Buy in an exclusive 3-month marketing arrangement.

The three new All-in-One printer models—the Easy Share 5100, 5300, and 5500 - are designed specifically for Kodak’s new pigment-based ink technology. They all feature print, scan, and copy functions. The new line is PictBridge-enabled for printing directly from compatible cameras, but each of the units also includes a USB ports for connection to PCs and other USB compatible devices. An optional Bluetooth 2.0 attachment allows for wireless connectivity. Both the 5300 and the 5500 have onboard memory card slots. The 5300 comes with a 3" LCD display, while the 5500 features a 2.4" display and fax capabilities.

Kodak reports that the entry-level 5100 can print documents at the rate of 32 pages per minute in black, and 22 pages per minute in color, with a very fast drying time of 15 milliseconds. PI assumes the other two higher-priced models are capable of similar output speeds, but Kodak provided specs only for the 5100. Featuring a new ink technology, the Easy Share printers present a potentially competitive entry into the market.

Previously, the 100-year estimated lifespan of the new inks has only been avaialble in high-end photo printers. Pigment inks are by nature longer-lasting than dye-based inks, but making them as vivid and affordable as dye-based inks has been the "Holy Grail of inkjet printing," according to Kodak’s Perez.

With most manufacturers’ printers, the printer heads are integrated into the ink cartridges but Kodak’s has built the printer heads into the printers themselves. This design helps keep ink costs down by eliminating printer heads from the frequently replaced cartridges. The price for each cartridge is expected to be $9.99 for black and $14.99 for color. Those prices are much lower than most currently available OEM cartridges, and should appeal to consumers on cost alone.

The 5-ink color cartridge contains cyan, magenta, yellow, a true photo black, and a clear ink to cover the unpigmented areas of the print with a protective layer while also creating a uniform gloss throughout the print. Kodak’s treated porous paper is designed for absorption of the ink medium but not the pigments, which apparently remain on the paper’s surface to produce for crisper prints. The new EasyShare models include a sensing technology that automatically detects the paper type and surface to take the guesswork out of paper selection.

According to Kodak, the same number of pages will cost half as much as comparable models, with 4x6 photos costing as little as ten cents per print with the purchase of Kodak’s Standard Photo Value Pack, and fifteen cents per print with the Premium Pack.

Kodak’s press release  can be found at:  http://kodak.com/eknec/PageQuerier.jhtml?pq-path=2709&pq-locale=en_US&gpcid=0900688a80671462

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