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The Canon Selphy DS-700 has about the same weight and volume as a fruitcake, and, as with a fruitcake, it's stuffed with goodies. Similar to a growing number of portable photo printers, the Selphy doesn't need a computer to work its magic. In fact, the instructions for installing printer drivers are buried at the back of the user manual. Instead, this printer is designed to be connected directly to your TV via the included video cable and is controlled with a cute little remote control. But if you don't have a TV handy, don't worry. The Selphy can print directly from most popular digital media memory cards, a PictBridge- or Canon BubbleJet Direct-enabled digital camera or camcorder, and infrared-enabled cell phones equipped with a camera. In short, it's meant to live in the family room rather than the office and doesn't require any knowledge of computers to operate. While we have a few complaints, this printer, by and large, makes a great addition to any snap-happy home.
Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.The Canon Selphy DS-700 is a quality unit, measuring 8.5 by 8.5 inches and weighing about four pounds. We think it's adorably attractive with a faux-silver plastic finish and rounded corners. The paper tray folds up and inside when the printer isn't in use, making for a compact design that's easy to store on a shelf. Although it's certainly portable and fits into a backpack with no problem, the Selphy has no provision for battery operation or for drawing USB power from a laptop. You can haul it around with you, but you'll need an AC outlet to print pictures.
A petite paper-output tray and autosheet feeder sit front and center. You can load about 20 sheets of photo paper into the feeder, but only 1 sheet of photo stickers at a time are allowed. Above the tray are two card slots that accept CompactFlash, MicroDrive, Memory Stick (Pro or MagicGate), SD, and SmartMedia (3.3V only) cards. A special adapter is required for some media, such as Mini SD, Memory Stick/MagicGate Duo, and xD Picture cards.
On the side of the unit is an infrared port that can receive data from a mobile phone equipped with IrMC 1.1, such as phones by Sony Ericsson, Siemens, and the occasional Nokia, and a Direct Print port where you can plug in a digital camera or video camcorder that support either PictBridge or Canon BubbleJet Direct. The USB port and video-out terminal are on the back of the printer.
The unit has a solid feel, but the paper tray, as is common, is a little flimsy. Fortunately, it's designed to rest on a table so that it can't be easily snapped off. The manual recommends that you stack no more than 10 pictures in the output tray, but nothing terrible happened when we let 15 photos accumulate. The Canon Selphy DS-700 uses Canon's BubbleJet inkjet technology and prints 4x6-inch color photos at a maximum resolution of 4,800x1,200dpi. The printer also accepts credit card (2.13-by-3.39-inch) and photo sticker (3.94-by-5.83-inch) media. Setting up the printer is merely a matter of turning it on and snapping in the single four-color tank, which is good for about 75 photos. The front of the unit has three buttons: Power, Resume/Cancel, and Print All Photos (for printing directly from memory cards without connecting to a TV or PC).
The hub of the Selphy is the nifty remote control. From this unit, you can power the printer on and off and access the menu screen used for viewing, selecting, and printing photos. In addition, this menu contains a toolbox for performing maintenance, including nozzle cleaning, head alignment, and so forth, plus adjusting the brightness and contrast of a print. One minor complaint about the remote: the white type on the pink Cancel button is really difficult to read. And although it seems obvious after the fact, you should aim the remote at the Selphy, not at the TV. Unfortunately, there's no way to run a head-cleaning cycle without hooking the printer up to a PC or TV.
Hooking the cable to the TV wasn't difficult, and once we turned on the printer and the TV, the menu screen appeared immediately. Obviously, the printer needs to access the photos before it can print them, via media card, digital camera, or phone. Once the printer "sees" the photos, you just select Photo Gallery from the menu to start viewing the pictures. To print, press the Print button on the remote control. The Selphy will also run the photos as a slide show.
The Selphy has a few advanced options available via the Print Studio menu button. From here, you can select a different layout such as two-up, print stickers, print thumbnails of all photos on a memory card, and change the order of printing to one that's set in the camera. You can choose to print dates on your photos and search for photos with a specific date; we appreciate this feature as we are lazy about deleting old photos from our media card.
Don't expect a great deal in the way of image correction; the Selphy isn't a substitute for Photoshop. However, the software does have a few onboard adjustments: automatic brightness and contrast, vivid photo, and noise reduction. We fooled around with the Face Brightener feature and thought it worked fairly well, but the Vivid setting, which prints blue and green more brightly, made our landscapes appear a bit surreal. We used a variety of media with the Canon Selphy DS-700--CompactFlash, Microdrive, and SD card--and had no problems to report. We connected a Canon PowerShot S45 right into the Selphy, and in 10 seconds, we were printing pictures. We timed the output; it took about 90 seconds to print a 4x6 borderless photo, and the ink dried in a few seconds.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Minutes per photo|
There were no artifacts, muddy colors, or misregistration problems, nor could we see any banding or dot gain. However, the DS-700's photos tend to be a bit low-contrast, so the colors may not pop quite as much as you'd like. We can also report that the photos looked great even if you, ahem, print on the wrong side of the Canon glossy photo paper. We got nice-looking matte prints and couldn't even see the Canon watermarks that are embedded on the back of the paper. We give the printer high marks for overcoming the not-paying-attention-to-the-very-clear-instructions factor. You do have to watch out for cropping the tops of images off when making borderless prints. This problem is a result of the aspect ratio of the image not exactly matching the paper size.
CNET Labs project leader Dong Van Ngo contributed to this section of the review. We like Canon's technical support. The Canon Selphy DS-700 comes with a one-year warranty and a reasonably unjargonized manual. From the Canon Web site, you can view FAQs; download drivers, software, and manuals; run through an automated troubleshooting program; and e-mail technical support. Canon offers toll-free support lines, including a line for the hearing-impaired, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to midnight ET, and Saturday fron 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET, excluding holidays.