The $200 Office Hero 6.1 All-in-One Printer is Kodak's midrange multifunction device that can print, scan, fax, and copy. The Hero line is built for professionals who need diverse printing features, and the Hero 6.1 delivers with connectivity through Wi-Fi, USB, and Ethernet along with Google Cloud Print compatibility. Finally, the Hero printers are the first to include Kodak's Email Print feature that lets you e-mail print jobs from any computer with an Internet connection, similarly to HP ePrint. The Office Hero 6.1 is easy to set up and relatively inexpensive with a useful portfolio of features, making it a no-brainer recommendation for small offices and families shopping for an all-in-one printer.
Design and features
Kodak designed the Hero series to live in a professional office environment, so the Hero 6.1's exterior looks more polished than the ESP line, with a small red strip distinguishing the line between the control panel and the hidden scanner bay. A matte black paint job covers the rest of the chassis and the contours of the angled display contrast nicely with the short autodocument feeder up top that can automate scans or copies with its 35-sheet paper tray.
The autoduplexer that flips pages over for double-sided printing adds a bulky protrusion to the back of the printer, but the extra weight is offset by its economic benefits for offices that print more than the usual amount. Kodak estimates that the Hero 6.1 can handle about 12,000 printed pages a month before it loses steam, which should be more than enough for SMBs and home offices with moderate to large output.
The main paper tray for everyday printing rests at the bottom of the unit and can hold up to 200 sheets of plain paper, or 70 sheets of photo paper. At the $200 range, I expected a dual paper tray supporting two separate media sizes, but the Hero 6.1 has only the single feeder with adjustable plastic paper guides. That said, amateur photographers hunting for the right device to materialize their photos can spend the same and get more photo-friendly features like siloed ink cartridges and a separate photo paper tray from Canon and Hewlett-Packard.
The Office Hero 6.1 uses the same model 10B and 10C cartridges as the ESP series, with a single tank for black ink and a separate five-ink cartridge of pigment color. Kodak claims its ink gives the lowest cost per page in the industry, and my calculations based on the company's XL-capacity cartridges corroborates those claims at just 2.4 cents per black page and 7.2 cents for a page of color. Keep in mind that all five inks are bundled into one cartridge, so you'll need to buy a new one when the first color runs out. That's why it makes more fiscal sense for a photographer wanting to print snapshots to get a printer with five or even six individual ink tanks.
Kodak offers several ways to print to the Hero 6.1 aside from the standard USB connection. You can hook it up to an office network using wired Ethernet or wirelessly via its 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi server.
Headaches usually arrive quickly when it's time to connect a printer to a wireless router, but I'm impressed with Kodak's streamlined handshaking--the printer is set up for the Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) computing standard, which reduces the process to a push of a button, if you have a compatible wireless router. It's just as easy to connect without WPS, however, but you'll need to create an ad hoc connection using the USB cable first. Unfortunately, Kodak doesn't provide this cable in the box. The Office Hero is also accessible remotely using the free Kodak Pic Flick App for iOS, Android, and BlackBerry devices. Though the application can't be used for heavy photo editing, you can specify the print quality and canvas size from 2x3 inches all the way up to the standard 8.5x11.
Printing from the cloud is perhaps the most convenient feature of the Hero 6.1, and you get two simple ways to print from any computer with an Internet connection. Google Cloud Print is a free utility that lets multiple users share your printer over the Web with a simple username registration and a compatible device running Google. Google stores your device information on its servers to keep your computer clutter-free and simplifies the process even further by keeping drivers and firmware up-to-date.