Of the three portable dedicated photo printers we've reviewed recently, the Canon CP-300 is by far the most compact and neatly designed. And priced at $379, it's also the most expensive. The CP-300 comes with a battery pack, and it briskly prints very good-looking photos. For style-conscious shutterbugs who need to print photos on the run, this smart little printer is a great choice. However, those people on a strict budget who are willing to live without a portable-battery option should check out the $270 HP Photosmart 245, or the even the slightly more affordable $150 HP Photosmart 145., the $200
Where HP's portable photo printers look like shrunken versions of their standard loaf-shape desktop inkjet printers, the Canon CP-300 is unusual-looking enough to turn heads. It's a sleek, compact, 6.7-inch-by-4.8-inch-by-2.2-inch (W, H, D) rectangle with a round window on the top panel that holds the power button and a status-indicator light. The light glows a cool green when you turn on the printer, pink when there's an error, and orange when you power it down.
A small panel in front of the printer flips down to receive the included paper trays (one for postcard-size prints, one for 4x6-inch prints); these are slim, unobtrusive gray-plastic cartridges that hold 18 sheets of paper each. On the left side of the printer, there's a little rubber door that hides two USB ports--one for connecting to a Mac or PC, one to receive select Canon or &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecipa%2Ejp%2Fpictbridge%2Findex%5Fe%2Ehtml" target="_blank">PictBridge-compatible digital cameras or camcorders for direct printing.
Another great touch is the included battery pack, which snaps onto the back of the CP-300. You can also buy a car-adapter kit and a cute, little carrying case through &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Epowershot%2Ecom%2Fpowershot2%2Fcp300%2D200%2Ffeatures5%2Ehtml" target="_blank">Canon's Web site.
Unlike HP's Photosmart 145 and 245 printers, the Canon CP-300 has neither an LCD, nor any slots for digital media. You'll have to use the camera's LCD to select photos and change print settings if you print directly from your digital camera. Otherwise, any adjustments must be done on your PC through the print drivers.
Fortunately, the drivers are very simple and easy to use. There are only three tabs on the interface to regulate paper size and orientation, color saturation and hue, and utilities. The printer also comes with ZoomBrowser EX and PhotoRecord software, Canon's basic image management software. These apps help you manage your photos, edit them, change print layouts, add a framelike border, and more. Canon's software is reasonably easy to use, but its interface is not quite as logicial as HP's, so you may have to refer to the on-CD user guide.
The Canon CP-300's setup is as easy as can be. The included printed setup pamphlet shows how to load the paper trays and change the ink cartridge. We appreciated the guide's helpful descriptions of what you can do with the CP-300, such as printing a picture directly from your camera, adding captions to photos, and even making business cards.