Portable Photo Printers

Portable photo printers are like tiny digital darkrooms you can take anywhere.

Some of them are small enough to easily fit into a laptop computer bag, while others are about the size of small tackle box. Some of them even run on batteries so you can print photos without a wall outlet.

Portable photo printers generally make prints that are of higher quality than the typical 29-cent 4 x 6 inch drugstore print. This is partly because these printers use better quality photo paper stock than the commercial places do.

Three models of portable photo printers that show up on several "best of" lists include (alphabetically) the Canon Selphy CP760, the Epson PictureMate Dash PM 260, and the HP Photosmart A826.

Canon Selphy CP760

The Canon Selphy CP760 Compact Photo Printer is one of several portable photo printers that makes 4 x 6 inch prints in less than one minute.

A computer is not necessary in order to run this printer because you can print directly from a memory card or USB drive. Resolutions go as high as 300 x 300 dots per inch, and this printer can be outfitted with a BU-30 Bluetooth interface that is sold separately.

The process the Selphy CP760 uses is dye sublimation, a process where ink is thermally transferred from a continuous plastic color-infused ribbon. Each cartridge carries enough ink for a set number of prints. Dye sublimation produces clear prints at high resolutions. It is capable of printing over 16 million different colors.

The printer comes with a 2.5 inch display and software that allows printing of images up to 4 x 8 inches. The images are water resistant, and are said to resist fading for up to a century. Compatible with PCs and Macs, this little dynamo measures 7.9 x 3.3 x 5.6 inches and weighs just 2.1 lbs. It comes with a one-year limited warranty.

Let's take a look at another portable photo printer...

Epson PictureMate Dash PM 260

The Epson PictureMate Dash PM 260 Compact Photo Inkjet Printer is another of the portable photo printers that churns out a 4 x 6 inch print in less than a minute. It creates smudge-free, fade and water resistant prints that last up to 200 years when stored properly.

Like the Canon Selphy, it can print PC-free with a memory card, the camera itself, or a USB drive. There is also a Bluetooth adapter sold separately.

The printer uses four-color dye and can print at a maximimum resolution of 5760 x 1440 dots per inch. Print types include wallet size, mini-wallet size, jumbo-wallet size, U.S. passport size, 2 x 2 inch to 3 x 3 inch square photos, portrait packages (four on a page and ten on a page), and proof sheet configuration.

The Epson PictureMate Dash PM 260 is compatible with PCs and Macs and holds 20 sheets of PictureMate photo paper. It weighs 5.3 lbs. and measures 6.5 x 8.7 x 9.1 inches.

HP Photosmart A826

The HP Photosmart A826 Home Photo Center 7" Touch Screen Printer is a little different from the other portable photo printers.

It has a 7 inch touch screen for laying out prints with no computer needed, like the others in this article. But it is the large touch screen that sets it apart. The touch screen can also be used to write on photos (using an included stylus), add borders, and make album layouts.

It prints 4 x 6 pictures in as little as 39 seconds. The touch screen also allows slide shows and has some photo retouching features like removing red-eye. The printer can hold up to 100 sheets of photo paper.

The printing process includes inserting a photo storage card or USB drive, following the on-screen instructions, and touching the "print" icon. The HP Photosmart A826 supports 4 x 6 inch, 4 x 6.5 inch, 4 x 8 inch photo card size, 4 x 12 inch panorama, and 5 x 7 inch borderless printing.

It is compatible with numerous USB drives as well as CompactFlash Types I and II, Mini SD, and xD-Picture Cards. It is compatible with PCs and Macs. While this printer is a little larger than the other two models at 10.4 x 9.6 x 10.8 inches and 5.8 lbs., its main selling points include the easy to use touch screen interface and ability to hold up to 100 sheets of photo paper.

With that said...

Portable photo printers make a great addition to any digital camera user's toolkit. The fact that they don't have to be hooked up to a computer makes them very convenient, even for laptop users. The quality of prints is generally superior to that of commercial printing services, and the cost per picture can be brought down to around 30 cents per picture with sensible purchasing of supplies.

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