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Olympus P-440 review: Olympus P-440

Olympus P-440

David D. Busch
5 min read
Whether connected to your computer or operating solo, the hefty Olympus P-440 dye-sublimation printer cranks out photos in dozens of different glossy or matte layouts on A4, A5 Wide, or A6 Wide paper in a blink of an eye. Professional photographers and serious photo enthusiasts will find every feature they need in this 314dpi device, including slots for xD-Picture media cards (used by Olympus and Fuji products); a PC Card slot for optional adapters that accept CompactFlash, SD, and other memory cards; and the ability to review, select, and correct images using either your computer, the built-in 1.8-inch LCD, or a TV. At list prices, each 8x10-inch print will cost you about $2.40 each. The Olympus P-440 photo printer tips the scales at more than 26 pounds and commands roughly 11 by 17 inches of your desktop. However, its vertically oriented design efficiently uses the space: The 25-sheet paper cassette slips into its niche vertically, making the printer taller (at 19 inches with cassette) than it is wide. As you'd expect, all of the controls, the slots for memory cards, the menu LCD, and the other components are arranged on the front panel.

Changing the P-440's ribbon is not a cut-and-dried affair. Instead of simply popping in a series of cartridges, you have to align and attach the printer's ribbon to its ink cassette, which can be a little tricky. Beginners might be better off with a printer that has an easier installation. Once you pull the ribbon taut onto the cassette, the rest of the install is a breeze. Just flip open a door in the front and insert the ribbon cartridge, add paper to the cassette and snap it into place, connect the power, and link the printer to your Windows or Macintosh computer using a USB cable (which, as per usual with printers, is not included). Once the printer driver software is installed, you're ready to go.


Olympus P-440

The Good

Fast; decent print quality; connects directly to both Mac and Windows computers plus digital media.

The Bad

Optional adapters needed for media cards other than xD.

The Bottom Line

It uses older technology, and its print quality won't blow you away, but the P-440's speed and nice design might win over some shutterbugs.

Key controls are clustered on the top of the front panel. A selector dial on the left side lets you change the functions available from the LCD. You can choose between Input Select (USB, xD card or PC Card), Paper Size (including A4, A5 Wide, A4 postcard, or A6 Wide), and Setup modes; select individual photos for printing; and choose picture-output type (standard prints, postcards, photo album sheets, passport photos, or index prints.)

You navigate the menus on the LCD via a four-way cursor pad, and other buttons activate features; print/cancel jobs; and enlarge, rotate, or crop your photos. The menus are well laid out and easy to navigate, so you'll find this printer easy to use when not attached to a computer.

The Olympus P-440 prints only on full-size sheets but offers many different ways to fill them. You can create single 8x10-inch prints on standard paper, or lay out as many as 16 different shots on one sheet. Switch to A4 Postcard paper that's microperforated for separation into four separate cards after printing. Or, you can print multiple pictures on a single sheet in photo album mode, with 1, 2, 3, 4, or 6 equal-size images laid out in either vertical or horizontal orientation. Various frames and backgrounds can be added to enhance your album photos.

In Passport mode, you can print one or more pictures on A4 and A6 Wide paper in several sizes and layouts useful for passport and photo-ID applications. Index mode fills the sheet with thumbnails of images on a memory card, laid out in 41 to 84 picture arrays, with date, filename, and other information added to the index.

When printing from your computer, you can select the number of copies, from 1 to 50; choose whether to add an optional clear overcoat to the yellow, magenta, and cyan layers used to image the color print; enhance sharpness; adjust color; or scale image size between 25 and 400 percent. If you substitute a special matte ribbon for the glossy ribbon, it will apply a matte overcoat instead. (However, we didn't test this function.) Because you access the key color management tools from the printer driver, you'll want to use this mode when fine-tuning the colors of your prints.

The printer comes with Camedia Master 4.0, a software application for controlling print layout; editing photos; adding text; adjusting color, brightness, and contrast; sharpening or blurring images; and removing red-eye. The software also offers cataloging and special projects such as creating calendars, panoramas, desktop wallpaper, or albums.

It may be big, but the Olympus P-440 is no slug. It took just 1.9 minutes to produce an 8x10 photo--among the best time of any dye-sub printer we've tested, big or small. However, it took up to 40 seconds for the computer to process and spool the data, which usually indicates an inefficient print driver. For what it's worth, we didn't experience as long a lag when printing from a media card. The P-440 isn't especially noisy, but it makes a high-pitched whine when the ribbon passes from one color layer to another.

You'll get acceptable prints, with solid detail reproduction in both shadows and highlights. However, the color balance of our test prints was slightly off; we attribute this to a cyan cast, which also results in washed-out colors. The prints also showed severe metamerism--the cyan cast turned to a noticeable magenta cast when switching from daylight to fluorescent illumination. In addition, we noticed some visible striations caused by the printhead. Furthermore, thanks to its relatively low resolution, the P-440 had a hard time rendering fine details, especially on diagonals.

Paper costs range from $119.95 (list) for 100 sheets of A4 stock to $34.95 for 25 sheets of postcard or album paper. Matte or glossy finishes are supplied by the ribbon's overcoat layer, so you'll want to purchase either matte ribbon ($59.95 for enough panels to print 50 sheets) or glossy ribbon ($54.95 for 50 prints). That works out to about $2.40 per A4 sheet.

CNET Labs Project leader Dong Van Ngo contributed to this section of the review.

CNET Labs inkjet printer perfomance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Photos per minute  
Olympus backs the P-440 with a one-year limited warranty. Toll-free help is available Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET, or by e-mail. The latest drivers, FAQs, and other information for a broad selection of Olympus products are available at the Olympus Web site, although finding current information can be difficult--the site occasionally leads you down old or dead paths.

Olympus P-440

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 7Support 6