By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Kodak and Fujifilm, two big rivals for the retail digital printing dollar, are gearing up to roll out new models of their retail kiosks with an eye toward the expanding universe of digital photography.
The new kiosks, previewed at the PMA show last month, will give retailers the ability to make prints not just from digital camera memory cards, but from the increasingly popular camera phones hitting the U.S. market in force this year.
Fujifilm announced that it is working with Sprint to enable its Picture Mail subscribers to choose Fujifilm partner retail photofinishing locations for prints of mobile phone pictures via Fujifilm's Get the Picture Online service. The service is expected to be available later this year.
Fujifilm will connect its Get the Picture Online service to Sprint's Picture Mail Web site to give PCS Vision customers the ability to print their camera phone pictures at local retail outlets.
The two companies plan to extend print services later in the year so that camera phone users can locate and forward pictures to retail photofinishers directly from PCS Vision Picture Phones.
Fujifilm also announced that it can now outfit its Aladdin Digital Photo Center kiosks to accept images wirelessly from camera phones via Bluetooth. The Aladdin kiosks are installed in roughly 10,000 retail outlets across the country.
The company will roll out a camera phone solution for its Digital Photo Center Express later in the year. The Express connects to Fujifilm's Frontier digital minilab to make prints from digital sources. The Express can also connect to the Printpix NC-1000 printer for a self-service option.
Kodak and its retail partners are in the process of migrating the more than 24,000 installed Picture Maker kiosks in the U.S. to the new G3 family, which will give retailers access to a host of new printing options.
Available as an accessory to the G3 kiosks, Kodak will offer camera phone printing using Bluetooth or infrared to beam photos to a Picture Maker kiosk.
Retailers can configure their G3 kiosks with five-second digital image printing, a five-fold increase from previous Picture Makers, thanks to the new thermal dye-transfer 6800 Photo Printers. When paired, two 6800 Photo Printers can deliver a 4-inch by 6-inch print in five seconds. Individually, the 6800 can produce a print in 11 seconds. The 6800 can also produce bordered 5-inch by 7-inch prints without changing the media.
Kodak will offer three kiosk configurations in the spring for the 6800 Photo Printers: a 17-inch Picture Maker Digital Station containing one or two 6800 Photo Printers that deliver prints from digital sources; a 24-inch Picture Maker Print Station containing one page-size 8110 Photo Printer and one 6800 Photo Printer; and a fully integrated 36-inch Picture Maker Print Station containing one 8110 Photo Printer and two 6800 Photo Printers.
The company is also offering a variety of Picture Maker configurations. The Picture Maker G3 Order Station LS connects to a retailer's digital minilab and allows consumers to preview and select digital images for printing. The unit can also connect to one of the thermal printers (the 6800 or 8110) for making prints on the spot.
For producing prints directly from flash memory cards, the Picture Maker G3 Digital Station LS is a self-service, stand-alone kiosk featuring Picture CD burning and a 17-inch cabinet. The 24-inch and 36-inch screen models produce prints up to 8 inches by 10 inches.
Kodak also announced its first product to incorporate Applied Science Fiction's (ASF) dry film process technology: the G3 Film Processing Station. Kodak acquired ASF in 2003.
Billing it as the world's first self-service kiosk that lets consumers develop and print pictures from 35mm film, the new kiosk will dry process a roll of film and return the images on a CD "digital negative." It will give film consumers the opportunity to preview, edit, select and print the pictures they want in the sizes and quantities they desire. The Film Processing Station functions as a self-contained minilab when connected to a retailers' Picture Maker G3 kiosk, allowing consumers to print both film images and digital images from one kiosk.
According to Kodak, it takes five minutes to process the first image on a roll of film and seven minutes to print the entire roll, with a total of up to 14 rolls processed and printed per hour.
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