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Retail Printing Finds Need for Speed

Orlando, Fla. — In the early days of digital photography, the challenge was getting consumers in the stores to print. With the rapid growth of retail printing, the new challenge is how to get them out of the store. The major in-store printing vendors announced new kiosk software and faster dye-sublimation printers at PMA with an eye toward (politely) speeding customers along.

Kodak announced the Digital Picture Center, a customizable modular kiosk system and an upgrade to its recently introduced G4 kiosk software. The Picture Center ties multiple order stations into a common bank of photo printers. The new G4 software adds a “shopping cart workflow” that lets consumers add multiple items without multiple checkouts and a new user interface that resembles the company’s Easyshare Gallery online interface, among other enhancements.

The company also announced a Remote Business Manager service for remotely monitoring and managing in-store printing equipment. The service can provide information on device status, sales revenues and volumes, and also adjust in-store promotions and advertising.

Fujifilm announced two new Frontier digital minilabs and a new kiosk system in addition to enhancements to its Get the Picture Online service.

The new Frontier 500 is a compact model for lower volume stores. It will be available in May as a stand-alone printer/processor (LP5000) or with a film scanner (SP500). It can print 800 4R (4-inch by 6-inch) prints per hour, print in sizes up to 8 by 12 inches, and offers a 20 percent power reduction vs. its predecessor, the Frontier 340. It features the company’s Image Intelligence software for automatic image enhancement.

The Frontier 590 will ship in June and be geared to high-volume locations, with print speeds of up to 2,400 4R prints per hour when using Fujifilm’s Crystal archive paper type II and the company’s CP-49E chemistry. It offers a dry-to-dry film processing time of 1 minute and 22 seconds and can print in sizes up to 12 by 18 inches. The Image Intelligence software features automatic scratch and dust elimination and optional red-eye correction.

The company also announced changes to its GetPix kiosks, adding its Image Intelligence software, pumping up print speeds and integrating its kiosks with its online ordering service. The VP2 kiosk can produce a 4 by 6-inch print in eight seconds while the VP3, when using two 6-inch printers in tandem, produces a 4 by 6-inch in four seconds. Both models produce borderless 8 by 10-inch prints in 40 seconds. The kiosks feature “intelligent media inserts” that can be swapped out when memory formats change.

Changes to Fujifilm’s Get The Picture Online service will let consumers upload images from home directly to GetPix kiosks in nearby retail outlets. Once the order is placed, consumers receive a confirmation code which they enter in the kiosk to retrieve and print their pictures.

Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America announced two new kiosks, the DPS Click 5000 and DPS Kiosk 7000. Both are available with a choice of dye-sub printers for producing prints up to 8 by 12 inches. The DPS Click 5000 features an 80GB hard drive, 17-inch touch-screen display, on-board photo editing and image enhancement software. It can produce index prints, calendars, and can burn CDs. The DPS Kiosk 7000 is a self-service unit with a 17-inch touch-screen monitor. Both units work with the company’s existing dye-sub printers, the CP-9550DW ($2,395) and CP-3020DU ($1,1750).

Sony announced the SnapLab digital printing system. The unit features an 8-inch touch-screen monitor, slots for Memory Stick, CompactFlash, SD, SmartMedia, xD and USB flash drives. Its dye sublimation printer can produce 3.5 by 5-inch photo in roughly 13 seconds, a 4 by 6-inch print in 16 seconds, and a 5 by 7-inch print in 17 seconds.

The SnapLab offers a variety of image editing options, including cropping, zooming, rotating, color adjustment and red-eye removal. Users can add custom borders, logos, create greeting cards and add text or avail themselves to the 30 layout templates for ID cards and novelty items. The unit has a list price of $1,995.