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 user 2005-04-28 at 10:34:00 am Views: 120
  • #9164

    Fit to print with ease

    Get the picture whenever you want those photo machines

    The 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.

    Inkjet printers
    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.


    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.