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Polaroid PP46d photo printer review:Polaroid PP46d photo printer

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The Good Passport/ID format support.

The Bad High per-print cost; lacks many of the features of similarly priced photo printers; USB 1.1; Windows only.

The Bottom Line The Polaroid PP46d is good passport and ID photo printer, but its per-print cost and lack of features makes it a weak choice for the home photo enthusiast.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

4.6 Overall

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Though it has many of the accoutrements of a home photo printer, the compact Polaroid PP46d really wants to be sitting on the desk of your corporate facilities manager, printing identification photos. It does so competently, but its prints are expensive, regardless of whether you're watching a family budget or a departmental bottom line.

The 300dpi printer uses a four-pass (CMY plus overcoat), dye-diffusion thermal-transfer system, generating high-quality, borderless 4x5-inch photos in about 90 seconds. You'll need to supply the cable, but you can connect the printer to a Windows machine via its USB 1.1 interface, or you can print directly from CompactFlash Type I, SmartMedia, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, or Secure Digital/MMC cards. Memory Stick Duo, xD, and Mini SD are supported, but they require an optional adapter.

Documentation and setup for the PP46d are relatively straightforward. On the Polaroid Web site, you can find a good video resource that allows you to see the process, from setting up to changing the paper to troubleshooting problems, as well as the global support numbers. The printer comes with a standard one-year limited warranty.

The LCD preview/status screen on the printer is tiny, and scrolling through a large set of images on a memory card calls for DMV-like patience. However, the Polaroid PP46d supports DPOF (Digital Print Order Format), so you can create lists on your camera before putting the media card into the printer and printing from that list. You can also tag images as you scroll through them for batch printing. In addition to single-print and batch-printing modes, you can print a 25-image index sheet or one of numerous multi-image, ID/passport-print formats. The PP46d allows you to alter the brightness and sharpness of your image before you print, but any serious image adjustment will need to be made before you send the pic to the printer.

The Polaroid thermal photo paper and ribbon pack runs about $21 and will give you 36 prints, working out to a relatively expensive cost of about 58 cents per print. Interestingly, the photos seem optimized for viewing under office lights; in daylight, flesh tones are too cool, but they look OK under incandescent and best under fluorescent lights. So even if your ID photo makes you look like Medusa, in an office's synthetic glow, your PP46d-printed badge will show you hale, hearty, and rosy-cheeked.

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