A portable dye-sublimation snapshot printer that is simple enough for everyone in the family to operate.It's obvious from the packaging that Canon is targeting families with its latest Selphy printer, the ES2. Essentially the same size and weight as last year's ES1 model, the ES2 has the same upright design and small footprint and uses the same dye-sublimation printing technology. We didn't review the ES1when it was first released so we were interested to see how the new model compared with other snapshot printers we've examined. . . [more]
It's obvious from the packaging that Canon is targeting families with its latest Selphy printer, the ES2. Essentially the same size and weight as last year's ES1 model, the ES2 has the same upright design and small footprint and uses the same dye-sublimation printing technology. We didn't review the ES1when it was first released so we were interested to see how the new model compared with other snapshot printers we have examined.
The ES2 looks stylish in its cappuccino and white plastic case, which is sturdy and well designed. Like Epson's PictureMate 270 and HP's Photosmart A620 printers, the ES2 is designed to be used as a standalone printer and has built-in card slots, a USB connector for direct printing plus a few basic editing functions. All three printers come with carrying handles and will accept an optional rechargeable battery that enables them to be used away from mains power.
But that's where the similarities end. While the Epson and HP printers use inkjet technology, the ES models rely on dye sublimation. And, although all three manufacturers supply consumables in combined ink-plus-paper packs, the cost per print is lower for the inkjet printers than for the dye-sub models and print lightfastness ratings are slightly higher.
A flip down hatch on the lower front panel covers the three card slots, which will accept most popular memory cards - although some (such as xD-Picture Cards and the smaller mobile phone cards) require adaptors. The integrated ink and media cassette slots into the other side. Only ten sheets of paper are provided in the cassette that comes with the printer but you can buy 50- and 100-sheet packs.
The Selphy ES2 is supplied with a software CD, power adapter and cable, cleaning unit and 10-sheet media pack.
It's worth shopping around for consumables as prices vary widely; larger packs are cheaper on a per-print basis. Typical online prices vary from just under $34 to $70 for an E-P100 pack (100 sheets of paper plus ribbon) but you can expect to add between $8 and $12 to cover postage or delivery. Prices for the 50-sheet pack range from $22 to $35. When you add the delivery cost it's probably cheaper to buy 50-sheet packs at a specialist photo store, where we found a price of $24.95. (Interestingly, the store had no 100-sheet packs.)
The top panel on the ES2 has a lift-up 3.0-inch LCD, which is larger than its predecessor. Beside it is an arrow pad with a central Set button and surrounding scroll wheel. Nearby are buttons for entering the number of copies, along with Back and Print buttons. On the opposite side of the LCD are additional buttons that access the Edit, Display, Menu and Creative functions, along with a +/- toggle and a power on button. Behind them is a button labelled 'Open' for raising the cover to the output tray.
The top panel showing the index display of images from a media card and the main printer controls.
On the rear panel you'll find a bank of ventilation slots and a lift-off cover that protects the mount for the optional rechargeable battery. A sliding lever releases the lock for this cover. Below the battery cover is the DC-in power terminal.
Two USB ports (one A and one B) are concealed behind a hatch on the lower side panel but, strangely, no USB cable is provided. (Presumably Canon expects you to use the cable that came with your camera.)
Before starting to use the ES2 you must pull out the cleaner unit, which is inserted in the media bay before the printer is shipped. It is replaced by a media cartridge and the covering lid is closed. It's easy to see which way to insert the media cartridge, thanks to a direction indicator on the printer.
Loading the media cartridge.
The cleaner unit should be saved for periodic cleaning of the media bay. Simply replace the media cartridge with the cleaner unit and slide it in and out several times to remove any dust than may have lodged on the printer head. The cleaner unit should also be inserted when the printer is carried from one place to another.
The first time you use the printer you must press the Menu button and select the language you wish to use. After that, each time you wish to print you simply insert a memory card or connect a camera via a USB cable. The saved images are displayed immediately on the LCD and you can sort through them with the arrow pad keys or the scroll wheel.
Most of the controls on the Selphy ES2 are straightforward and intuitive and our 7-year old tester had no problems setting the printer up and making her first print with the aid of the leaflet supplied with the printer. A more comprehensive user manual is provided on the software CD - and also downloadable through Canon's local website. (It's a good idea to skim through this 103-page User Guide to familiarise yourself with the printer's displays and functions before embarking on the more sophisticated controls for adjusting image colours and tones.)
Selecting an image for printing.
Pressing the Menu button lets you choose between printing individual, selected or all pictures, the latter via the Auto Play function. You can also select DPOF printing for automated printing of images tagged beforehand in the camera. The Menu button is also used to access the print settings (borders, date imprint and file number imprint on or off, layout, red-eye correction, image optimise and adjustment, My Colours and Date Format) and the printer set-up (auto rotate, auto power down, Bluetooth connection and language options).
The trimming function overlays a grid on the image. This grid can be enlarged and reduced or moved about with the arrow buttons.
In the Basic Printing Mode you can press the Edit button to enlarge and trim selected shots, using the arrow pad buttons to adjust the cropped area. A grid frame is overlaid on the selected image to allow users to determine the correct orientation for the trimmed shot. Pressing the + and - buttons lets you input the number of copies you require and pressing print activates the printing process. It couldn't be simpler.
Pressing the Print button starts the printing process.
Pressing the Creative button allows you to add Frames, Speech Bubbles or Clip Art stamps (nine options are provided) to prints. It also accesses Calendar, Multi Layout and ID Photo options and a range of Image Effects that includes faded edges, soft edges, soft focus and star lights. The Frames function can only be used for postcard-sized prints and you can rotate a frame to match the orientation of a selected picture. However, you can't change the thickness of a frame or alter its colour.
Six colour options are provided for both backgrounds and speech bubbles but the colours of the nine clip art graphics can't be changed. Speech bubbles and clip art can be rotated with the +/- buttons and moved about the frame with the arrow buttons. However, you can't enlarge or reduce them. Up to 10 clip art stamps can be overlaid on a print.
The Calendar setting provides six layout options, each showing one month. The background colour can be selected from a palette of six hues and you can set the year, month and week starting day. You can also highlight certain days in a different colour; but you can't set national or state holidays.
Multi Layout can be used for printing two images plus text to build a picture diary than can be stored in a mini album. Other options include 2-up, 4-up and 8-up, along with a 20-shot index. The Fixed Size setting lets you print an image on the left side of the sheet, leaving the right side unprinted. It's useful for homemade postcards.
Images can also be superimposed on different-coloured backgrounds. Positional adjustments to clip art, frame size changes and other simple modifications are achieved by toggling the arrow pad buttons. When you print from a memory card from a Canon digital camera you can also access the My Colours functions and adjust brightness, contrast and sharpness. (Some of these options are only available with a few printing settings.)
Connection of a digital camera via a USB cable is indicated by a display on the printer's LCD.
Printing is controlled from the camera.
Owners of Canon digicams can also use the Movie Print function to print and index of 20 thumbnail-sized frames from a video clip. The first frame is displayed on the monitor screen; it and the following 19 frames will be printed. However, you can't playback movies on the LCD so selection of the frames for printing can involve lots of toggling.
The ES2 also supports wireless printing from camera-phones and computers via a built-in infra-red link (the receiver is on the lower front panel) or an optional Bluetooth accessory. Supplied accessories include a cleaner unit (which is inserted before the printer is shipped), a 'solution' CD, a 10-print 'trial' cartridge and a mains power adaptor and power cord, which plugs into the rear panel just below the hatch that covers the optional battery cover.
The supplied Canon Compact Photo Printer Solution Disk also provides a standard suite of 'utilities' for Windows and Macintosh. These include ZoomBrowser EX 6.0, ImageBrowser 6.0, EOS Utility 1.1/a plus the printer drivers for both platforms, which . A Selphy-specific version of Ulead Photo Express LE 6.5 is also provided for Windows users but it can only be used when the printer is connected to a computer. The disk is self-launching.
Print quality was generally very good. Our test prints had the look and feel of lab quality prints - right down to the slightly warmed skin tones. Other colours were closer to real-world colours and blacks were rich for dye sublimation technology. Overall, our test prints were not quite as sharp or vibrant as prints from the inkjet printers we've reviewed. However, we doubt most purchasers would even detect these variations, let alone find fault with them.
It was nice to see that Canon has retained the postcard paper from its earlier dye-sublimation printers. The back of each sheet is printed to create a postcard. Once you've made the print on the other side, simply snap off the rebates and you have a standard-sized postcard that is ready to address and send. There's a narrow overflow of the image into the rebate area but it's not enough to trouble most potential users.
The printing process was a big hit with our young testers.
Our young testers found the printing process endlessly fascinating to watch because the printer turns the paper around on the first pass before laying down the yellow, magenta and cyan dyes and finishing with the over-coating. You can clearly see the image emerge with each pass through the printer.
Although Canon claims a postcard-sized print can be produced in 69 seconds, in our tests the process averaged one minute and 12 seconds. Prints emerge dry to the touch.
The graphics capabilities of the printer were initially seen as exciting but their limitations - and the amount of toggling required to use them - soon made enthusiasms pall. Overall, the best features of this printer centred on how easy it was to make prints and the instant gratification of seeing a full-colour print emerge on-the-spot. If that's your objective, the Selphy ES2 is worth considering, particularly if you prefer a 'softer' looking print than those from inkjet printers and are prepared to shop around for media packs.
Printer type: Dye sublimation thermal (with over-coating)
Resolution: 300 x 600 dpi (max)
Paper sizes: 148 x 100 mm, 119 x 89 mm, 86.0 x 54.0 mm
Max. print speed: Postcard size: 69 sec, L size: 61 sec, Credit card size: 53 sec
Ink: Dedicated cartridge (Y, M, C, and over-coating material)
Cost per print: 34 cents to 67 cents with E-P100 Easy Photo Pack
LCD monitor: 3.0-inch colour LCD with tilt-up mechanism
Interfaces: Digital Camera: PictBridge and Canon Direct Print; USB; Wireless: IrDA (print beam), Bluetooth with optional BU-20 adaptor
Power supply: DC 24 V: Compact Power Adaptor CA-ES100; Optional Battery Pack NB-ES1L (22.2 V)
Power consumption: 70W or less (standby: max. 4W)
Dimensions (wxhxd): 199.0 x 176.7 x 113.3 mm
Weight: Approx. 2.1kg
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Rating (out of 10):
- Build: 8.5
- Features: 8
- Print quality: 8.5
- Print speed: 8
- OVERALL: 8.5