If you’re one of the thousands who use a digital camera on the job — or just carry one on business trips to keep the family updated — you’ve already fallen for the ease of e-mailing photos. It’s only a matter of time before you consider cutting out the middleman, aka the surly teen at the film-developing kiosk. Most standard inkjet printers — but not their laser brethren — can knock out a reasonable facsimile of your shots, but to get close to professional-quality photos, check out these new specialty printers.
HP PhotoSmart 100, $179.99
Pros: Prints from a variety of digital memory cards directly (CompactFlash, SmartMedia cards, and Sony Memory Stick). Crisp resolution at 2400 x 1200 dpi; port-able at a weight under 3 pounds. Cons: Only 4 x 6 prints. Bottom line: Most people stick to the standard 4 x 6 photo size anyway, and you can always go to aforementioned surly teen for larger reprints. The ability to use a variety of memory cards without having to hook up to a computer is a big plus, especially if you’re traveling with the printer. Throw in a reasonable price and you see why PC Magazine gave it an editor’s choice award.
More info: www.hp.com
Epson Stylus Photo 820,
available now at a new, lower price of $99
Pros: Prints one 4 x 6 every 48 seconds with six-color ink-jet technology. Also produces 5 x 7 and 8 x 10 prints.
Cons: No ability to print directly from a memory card, so it must be hooked up to a computer, and, weighing 7.7 pounds, it’s not really portable. At a max resolution of 2880 x 720 dpi, photos aren’t as sharp as others.
Bottom line: Nice price under $100, but you get a slightly lower-quality print, and it still needs a hookup to the computer. It does offer a variety of print sizes, so it could be your choice for home use.
More info: www.epson.com
Sony DPP-MP1, available this month, $280
Pros: Weighs less than one pound and uses high-tech, super high-resolution dye sublimation process to produce 2880 x 1200 dpi prints.
Cons: Prints from Sony Memory Stick only. Smaller photo size; bigger cost.
Bottom line: Super-compact printer, but with super-compact prints. The exclusive memory-card compatibility is a drawback too, but you can’t blame the company. Sell more cameras, sell more printers, right?
More info: www.sonystyle.com