The $100 Canon Selphy CP740 is an entry-level compact photo printer whose limited onboard feature set reflects its relative position among dedicated 4x6 photo printers. Still, we liked the quality of the prints and the printer's ease of use. If you're looking for a dedicated snapshot printer and you're on a budget, this is a good choice. But if you want more features and are willing to pay for them, check out the Epson PictureMate Snap.
The Selphy CP740 is indeed compact and can be easily slipped into a tote bag or large purse. It measures 7 inches wide, 2.5 inches tall, and 5 inches deep. It weighs 2.1 pounds without the ink installed, paper cassette attached, or power brick plugged in; with all of the necessary accoutrements, it gets a bit heavier.
The top face is where the interface and control panel live. A 2-inch color LCD is embedded right in the surface of the printer. Since it's not mounted on a movable piece, you'll have to position yourself right over it for a good viewing angle. Along the edges of the LCD are buttons for power, zooming in and out of an image, red-eye removal, mode, layout, and date. The other two buttons are print/stop and a four-way rocker switch.
On the front edge are three memory card slots that can accept most common memory cards, though some will require an adapter (not included). There's also a retractable mini-USB cable for directly connecting PictBridge cameras; we thought the retractable cable was a nice touch. Finally, a panel opens to reveal the paper input area. Instead of loading paper directly into the printer, you need to load the paper into a paper cassette, which then attaches to the front of the printer.
On the printer's left edge are two USB ports, one for connecting the printer to a PC and another for connecting a PictBridge device (an alternative to the front-mounted mini-USB port). On the right edge is a door that conceals the ink cassette.
As sold, the Selphy CP740 comes with a postcard-size cassette and a starter ink cartridge that is good for only five prints (five sheets of paper are also included). (Because the Selphy CP740 uses dye-sublimation technology, the ink cartridge can only produce the number of prints it's designed for, unlike inkjet technology.) The postcard-size paper is also the 4x6 paper, despite the fact that the paper measures 4x7 inches. On both short ends, the paper is perforated about a half-inch in from the edges, allowing you to tear the sheet down to 4x6 inches. The back of the paper is preprinted like a postcard. Canon sells several paper sizes for this printer, including credit card and greeting card (4x8); each size requires a different paper cassette.
Paper and ink are sold together in packages, and the ink is calibrated for the number of sheets in the package. To calculate print costs, we looked at the largest ink/paper combo: 108 sheets of postcard/4x6 paper plus ink for $30. Your per-print cost would be 27.8 cents, a bit more than per-page prints from the Epson PictureMate printers, but not surprising, as dye-sub prints are generally a bit more expensive than inkjet prints.
The Canon Selphy CP740 gives you a choice of printing methods. You can print directly off a memory card, from an attached PictBridge or DPOF camera, wirelessly from a Bluetooth device (you'll need to purchase the optional Bluetooth adapter), or from your PC.
When using the Selphy CP740 in stand-alone mode with a memory card, you can make prints singly, select a bunch of shots and print them all at once, or do a print all, which prints one image per sheet. If you're using the single-print or select-prints modes, the screen displays a thumbnail of the image, as well as other information, including the type of card you're using, the layout, the date (you can turn the date print on and off), the size of the paper you've loaded, and the number of prints you've chosen for each image (in select prints mode). To zoom in to the image, press the button with the magnifying icon, which causes the image to fill the entire screen. If you move on to the next image, the printer goes back to the default display. Layouts include one, two, four, or eight images per page, bordered or borderless, and an index print, which produces eight images per page, along with image numbers.
As far as photo treatment features go, your options are limited on the Selphy CP740. You can turn the red-eye reducer on or off, but you can't crop or apply color treatments. The Epson PictureMate Pal lets you do both via the printer, as well as apply general quality enhancements. For photo treatment options, you'll have to use the Selphy CP740 as a computer-attached printer and avail yourself of Canon's Easy-PhotoPrint software.
If you're taking this printer somewhere where a power outlet isn't easily available (a child's birthday party in the park, for example), Canon offers an optional battery pack. The rechargeable battery attaches to the rear of the printer. Canon estimates that the fully charged battery is good for about 36 4x6 prints and takes about 2.5 hours to fully charge a depleted battery.
We tested the Selphy CP740 in computer-attached mode, so we could make comparisons to other printers. We expected this printer to be slower than other printers, because each time you print, the page makes four passes through the printer: three times for the color to be put down (this printer uses dye-sublimation technology) and once more to apply a protective top coat. (The paper passes through a slot in the rear of the printer each time, so keep this area clear.) It surprised us, however, by producing 4x6 photos at a rate of 0.92 page per minute, faster than many of the single-function and multifunction inkjet printers, but slower than the Epson PictureMate Pal (1.0ppm) and PictureMate Snap (1.24ppm). (Both are inkjet printers and more expensive than the Canon.)
Our standard 4x6 test print produced on the Selphy CP740 showed sharp, clear details and pleasing skin tones. We saw compression in the dark end of the grayscale, which resulted in muddled details in dark areas. The colors looked a bit cool, and we'd prefer a brighter, warmer look. But overall, the Selphy CP740 produced prints that were good enough for casual home users and we preferred these prints to the ones produced by the Epson PictureMate Pal.
Service and support
Canon backs the Selphy CP740 with a standard one-year warranty. Toll-free phone support is available weekdays from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT. E-mail support is also available via a Web-based form. Canon's site includes FAQs, drivers and downloads, and manuals.