This past summer, I received an e-mail from a marketer working with the Eastman Kodak Co., informing me about a suite of products the imaging company had put together specifically for the real estate professional. I ignored the e-mail.

The young intern from the marketing firm, who was given the tedious task of trying to get the media interested in the Kodak products, was dutifully persistent and she sent me a follow-up note. This one got my attention. I occasionally feature in this column new technology products, software or Internet programs, so why shouldn’t I look at hardware as well. I decided to talk with the folks from Kodak.

"Obviously, Kodak has been in the imaging market for a very long time, primarily in the consumer and commercial printing space, but after looking at our portfolio of products and solutions from a small-office/home-office perspective, we targeted that market," explained Veneeta Eason, Kodak’s worldwide business development manager.

This past summer, I received an e-mail from a marketer working with the Eastman Kodak Co., informing me about a suite of products the imaging company had put together specifically for the real estate professional. I ignored the e-mail.

The young intern from the marketing firm, who was given the tedious task of trying to get the media interested in the Kodak products, was dutifully persistent and sent me a follow-up note. This one got my attention. I occasionally feature in this column new technology products, software or Internet programs, so why shouldn’t I look at hardware as well. I decided to talk with the folks from Kodak.

"Obviously, Kodak has been in the imaging market for a very long time, primarily in the consumer and commercial printing space, but after looking at our portfolio of products and solutions from a small-office/home-office perspective, we targeted that market," explained Veneeta Eason, Kodak’s worldwide business development manager.

Once Kodak entered the small-office market, it also began looking closely at a subset of that group: real estate brokerage firms.

Just as a coincidence, about two years ago I needed a new digital camera and went into an electronics superstore. I came out with a Kodak. So, I knew they had a good, modern product. I also understood Kodak had entered the printer market and had been making considerable headway against the Hewlett-Packards and Canons of the world.

Kodak now owns 5 percent of the inkjet market in the United States and 15 percent in the United Kingdom, Eason told me.

Selling inkjets is a cutthroat business, but Kodak entered the fight with a pretty good game plan: low-cost replacement cartridges. Anyone who uses an inkjet printer regularly knows how expensive it is to replace these cartridges, so when Kodak began offering a replacement black cartridge for under $10 and the color cartridge for $16.99, it got the attention of economically savvy buyers.

Mark Walser, Kodak’s business development manager who was in on my phone call to Eason, told me something I didn’t know. If, as a real estate broker, you print up your own brochures and leave them someplace where they will sit in direct sunshine, the print will fade; and if there is rain or humidity, there’s a chance the ink will run.

But Kodak uniquely uses pigment-based inks, not dye-based inks, so your brochures will not fade and even if they get wet — the ink is water-resistant, so it is designed not to run.

The package of products Kodak put together for a real estate office consists of five items: a small camera with a wide-angle lens that can make tight quarters look spacious; a pocket digital video camera for creating instant virtual tours; digital (picture) frames with built-in Wi-Fi capability; all-in-one printers (copy, scan and fax); and a dedicated scanner for big, multipage projects.

This all sounded good, but I needed to test some of these products. Since I’m not a broker, it wouldn’t do me any good to handle the offerings, so I decided to let a couple of my readers, who are brokers, play with the Kodak products.

I had a Kodak M580 camera sent to Rod Weaver, managing director of Crye-Leike Realtors in Madison, Ala.

In his report to me, Weaver said, "I had a couple of listings and once I got the camera, I used it to do the photography. The main thing for me was the wide-angle, which was awesome. What I do is get in one corner of a room and try to capture it wall-to-wall. Most point-and-shoot cameras don’t have a large wide-angle lens to capture it all. The Kodak 580 was able to capture the room wall-to-wall."

Weaver added one other commendation: "What I really loved about the camera was that the software to download or file-share is built into it. For my business, I have a computer at home; my assistant at the office has a computer; and I have a whole team working for me. There are multiple computers. When I plug the camera into a computer, the software is already there — I don’t have to worry about a disc (loading a program). It makes it real easy."

An associate of Weaver’s, Dan Griess, general manager of the Chattanooga, Tenn., region for Crye-Leike Realtors, tried out the Kodak Zi8, a pocket digital video camera.

"I’ve got a Droid and this was smaller," said Griess. "This was easy to use. It being small, my hand would shake a bit, but it has image stabilization."

The two uses that he sees for this product are creating virtual tours and previews.

"Since the camera has a YouTube link, you could (record) a property (video) and create YouTube tours," said Griess. "We also do previews a lot — this would be very helpful, as we could just send someone a streaming file."

Griess did, however, have two criticisms. The first is that to do really anything with the product one needs to buy a bigger memory card; and secondly, you need to download some software.

The really good fun was when Griess went to a broker networking meeting and whipped out his pocket gizmo, one-upping everyone on the next great technology.

I also received a Kodak product to try out — it was the ESP Office 6150 all-in-one inkjet printer.

Here’s my report. Once I received the product, things started off badly. I couldn’t get the CD program to function, which was actually a problem with my computer and not the CD, so I decided to download the software from the Kodak site. Well, that didn’t work either.

My next shot was the technical assistance line, which transferred me to a tech aide in Delhi, India, who was absolutely fabulous and got me hooked up with no further problems.

The 6150 was smaller than my old all-in-one inkjet, which I liked. And all functions were good. The true test would have been to print a brochure, but I’m not a broker so that was not going to happen. However, I came up with a workable alternative.

My wife has been taking family photos upon family photos but not printing any of them. I said, "Here’s the new printer — go for it." I went downstairs to read a book and she stepped into the breach, knocking out at least two dozen family photos.

She had a "heckuva" good time and gave the new printer a rating of two thumbs up.

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