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Digital photo printing simplified

LexMark introduces a photo printer for digital cameras that bypasses the computer and another method that uses Iomega's Zip drive.

LexMark today introduced a photo printer for digital cameras that completely bypasses the computer, as well as a PC-free imaging solution featuring Iomega's Zip drive.

Currently, most digital camera users must connect the camera to the PC, download the images, and then print from a connected printer. This process may include complicated hook-ups from the camera to PC, and the process of downloading the images can be slow.

The Lexmark Jetprinter 5770, introduced today, can print photo-quality prints directly from the digital camera's memory card, which acts as digital film. Also, users can store images on stand-alone Zip drives, and then print directly from the Zip disk. While other printers offer similar cable or infra-red camera-to-printer connections, Lexmark's solution is the simplest yet, analysts say.

"It's certainly unique in a couple of ways," said Carl Holec, an analyst at ARS. "They are the first one to accept both CompactFlash and SmartMedia [memory cards], which does increase the usability."

Digital cameras offer users more control over picture quality than traditional cameras because digital images can be manipulated and edited. However, these new features have come at the price of convenience, some users say, creating the need for a product like the Lexmark printer that offers some of the benefits of digital imaging but with less hassle.

"Before digital cameras can grow [in popularity] the process has to be as simple as in the past," Holec said. "[The Lexmark] does make it as easy as possible."

The new printer works with digital cameras from Canon, Epson, Hewlett-Packard, Minolta, Nikon, Olympus, and Ricoh, Lexmark said.

The Photo Jetprinter 5770 will be available in November for $349, and can print both photo-quality prints as well as documents, the company said.