FIT TO PRINT WITH EASE
FIT TO PRINT WITH EASE
2005-04-28 at 10:33:00 am #9163
Fit to print with ease
Get the picture whenever you want those photo machinesThe evolution of the multifunction home printer has proceeded with warp
speed in the past decade, leading to machinery that spins out text, graphics and
photos of terrific quality – and with terrific economy.
are all the rage, but a niche market for photographers and photo enthusiasts has
emerged as well, with machines designed for speed, convenience and (in some
cases) portability. These are the 4-by-6 – as in inches – photo
They don’t do text, and they won’t do charts, but most of the
dozen or so on sale – from companies including Canon, Olympus, Kodak, Sony and
Hewlett-Packard – feature excellent color and detailed images exclusively in the
postcard format. Some require connection to a computer, others will print
directly from a compatible digital camera or from the camera’s memory card, and
almost all cost between $150 and $200.
Here’s a look at some of the newer
Remember when you used to hold a Kodachrome slide up to
the light? The Hewlett- Packard PhotoSmart 375 ($200) model updates the concept,
with a bright 1.8-inch color LCD viewer for previewing a print. Photo quality is
excellent: The 375 uses an HP 95 Tri-color inkjet cartridge and churns out a
snapshot in about a minute and a half, which is average for these kinds of
Installation is just a matter of plugging in the ink cartridge
and plugging in the AC cord, and the footprint of the HP is such that it’ll fit
into desk corners where larger printers won’t. Price-wise, we estimate that
considering price of paper and ink, each print costs about 35 cents.
nice touch is the option to add a rechargeable battery to power the 375, which
truly makes it portable, and a
Bluetooth adaptor, for transferring print
data from Bluetooth-equipped cameras and notebooks.
The handsome prints
turned out by the new Canon Selphy CP-400 ($150) compact printer will last up to
100 years, the company says. The unit features a printing method called
dye-sublimation, rather than the more common inkjet.
The printer also can
make variable sized prints, including 2.5-by-3.5-inch credit-card pictures.
Software included in the box encourages users to create personalized holiday
cards, birth announcements, invitations and the like. An LCD monitor is used to
control the printer’s menu system.
The Canon, as well as the other
printers mentioned here, employs PictBridge technology, which is supported by
most digital cameras manufactured in the past year. With PictBridge, the
computer can be eliminated, as the camera is connected directly to the printer
out of the camera’s USB port. It is a time-saving, unfussy way to print.
Estimated price per print, about 50 cents.
The Epson PictureMate ($200)
offers slower print production than most of the competition and a form that
reminds us of an Igloo cooler for six-packs, but the images are high
There’s no portable functionality, but the inkjet-based Epson
will accept all manner of flash memory cards – CompactFlash I and II,
Microdrive, SmartMedia, Sony Memory Stick, Secure Digital, and xD-Picture
storage media – and can, like the HP, be adapted for Bluetooth use.
PictureMate is economical too, with the sharp, saturated prints costing an
estimated 20 cents each.
THE BIG PICTURE
For those digital
photographers whose dreams are mural-size instead of pocket-size, Shutterfly’s
got just the ticket.
The online photo service will print your image on
hand-stretched canvases in three sizes, from 16-by-20 to 24-by-36. Perhaps
that’s not quite a mural, but hang it on a small wall and it might appear like
Prices start at $89.99 for a ready-to-hang print, which has a
professional finish (larger prints are $129.99 and $149.99). The photos are
reproduced on textured canvas, which is then hand-stretched and mounted onto
wooden support frames. The image, printed with long-lasting inks, runs to the
edge of the canvas so it wraps around the frame, “giving photos a gallery
finish,” the company says. The canvas is coated to prevent damage from UV light
and excess moisture.
Shutterfly recommends a photo resolution of at least
3 megapixels, but a spokeswoman said they’ll print what you send, be it out of
focus, badly exposed or whatever. Customers do have the ability to edit, adjust
colors and contrast, and make other changes to their photos on the Shutterfly
Web site, http://www.shutterfly.com.
A similar canvas-print service is offered
by one of Shutterfly’s competitors, http://www.photoworks .com. Sizes include 11-by-14,
24-by-36 and 36-by-48 inches.