New Printers Promote Portability

By Greg Scoblete On Feb 9 2004 - 8:00am

Epson and Canon targeted both the mobile and immobile inkjet consumers with new printers introduced this week. Canon added a desktop unit as well as printer aimed at mobile professionals while Epson entered the 4-by-6 "appliance" printer market.

All the new printers from Canon and Epson feature PictBridge compatibility.

Canon introduced its top-of-the-line i9900 desktop photo printer. The 13-by-19-inch inkjet printer features new red and green ink cartridges, 4,800 by 2,400 maximum color resolution, 2 picoliter ink droplets, as well as USB 2.0 and Firewire interfaces. The i9900 will be available in May for a suggested list price of $499.99.

The i9900 is the company's first in this price band to offer eight individual ink tanks and the company's ChromaPLUS 8-color ink system, which adds individual red and green ink tanks to the other tanks commonly found on six-color printers.

The i9900 can produce edge-to-edge borderless prints in 4-by-6, 5-by-7, 8.5-by-11 and 13-by-19-inch sizes. The printer can crank out a 4-by-6-inch borderless photo in about 38 seconds, a 5-by-7-inch photo in approximately 47 seconds, an 8.5-by-11-inch photo in about 84 seconds and a full 13-by-19-inch borderless photograph in under three minutes. Text speeds clock in at 16 pages per minute (ppm) in black and up to 12 ppm in color printing.

Canon also introduced a new mobile printer, the i80, featuring a newly designed print head, optional Bluetooth unit and an optional Automobile Power Unit. The i80 mobile printer will be available in mid-February for a suggested retail price of $249.99.

This new print head is said to combine 2 picoliter nozzles to improve image quality with 5 picoliter nozzles for faster print speeds. The i80 features a maximum resolution of up to 4,800-by-1,200 color dpi and supports edge-to-edge borderless printing in 4-by-6, 5-by-7 and 8.5-by-11-inch sizes.

It can produce prints at speeds up to 14ppm in black and up to 10ppm in color. An optional BU-10 Bluetooth unit, for wirelessly transmitting data to the printer, will have an estimated selling price of $79.99. A new optional Automobile Power Unit (PU-100U, $89.99) allows users to charge or power the i80 directly through a car power socket.

Epson entered the dedicated 4-by-6-inch "appliance" printer category with its PictureMate. Billing it as a "personal photo lab" the printer is targeted at consumers who have just purchased digital cameras. It produces 4-by-6-inch photos using 6-color pigment inks at a resolution of 5,760 by 1,440 dpi with Epson's Micro Piezo inkjet technology.

According to Epson, the prints resist fading or yellowing for more than 200 years when stored in an album and endure more than 100 years when kept under glass.

The unit can print directly from a digital camera, without a PC, either through slots for memory cards (including CompactFlash type I and II, SD/MMC, xD, Memory Stick, Microdrive, and SmartMedia) or through the USB host port with PictBridge-enabled digital cameras. It features a second USB port to connect to a PC (if desired).

Users are guided through the printing process with a Print Wizard on the unit's LCD screen where they can print a photo proof sheet. Users can then select the photos they want to print, choose from various layout options (borderless, classic borders, or wallet-sized) and choose from three color options: color, black and white and sepia. Consumers can do some basic cropping through the printer as well.

The printer will ship in May for an estimated street price of $199. A PictureMate Print Pack with both the ink and paper enough for 100 prints will retail for a suggested $29. According to Epson, the pricing was deliberately set to position the consumables to equal the cost of most digital prints made at retail, which is roughly 29 cents per print.

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