Samsung SPP-2040 dye-sub photo printer
Stitch this, inket...
Review Better known for its laser printers, Samsung is the second major manufacturer to produce a photo-printer based on dye-sublimation technology. Its SPP-2040 is a direct competitor to Canon's Selphy CP-500 and even appears to use the same print engine and consumables, writes Simon Williams.
The SPP-2040 starts out looking like a small, cuboid box about the size of a compact dictionary. However, once you've inserted the paper cassette, which adds nearly 15cm to the printer's depth, its desktop footprint is not that small.
On the top is a hinged 5cm LCD, which is used in combination with four buttons and a four-way dial button to navigate the printer's menu system and to edit images before printing. However, I found the display to be too small to see much image detail._
On the left-hand side under a flip-down cover are sockets for USB 2.0, PictBridge (where you can also plug in an optional Bluetooth adaptor) and power connections. Power comes from an external power block and there's no facility to run the printer on batteries for portable use. Flip down a cover on the other side and you can slide in the film cartridge.
At the front of the printer are card clots which can take most of the common types of memory card. You can use the printer independently of a PC, to print from any memory card or directly from the camera.
Set up is simple: plug in the paper cassette, slide in the film ink cartridge, being careful not to snag the thin film, and connect either a PC or a PictBridge camera. The Windows printer driver takes care of paper size and resizing your images to fit, while the PictBridge firmware in the printer enables you to control print jobs from your camera._
You have some control over the quality and size of the prints from the printer's menu and can change properties such as brightness and contrast. You can also zoom in on areas of an image and pan around it to print a selected portion. There's a facility to print multiple images on a single sheet, effectively giving you thumbnails.
Samsung claims a print in 60s from this machine, but we weren't quite able to match this in our tests. Printing from a PictBridge camera we saw a print in 1m 11s - from a PC, it took 1m 4s. Neither of these times was as good as from the Canon Selphy and the PC print speed was 30 per cent slower from the Samsung machine.
Print quality is very good with natural and accurate colours. The dye-sublimation technique means ink is transferred as a vapour from the backing film to the paper, so you get a 'continuous tone' print, very similar to a classic, silver halide photograph. In other words, you don't see the dots visible even on the best inkjet printers.
The printer prints three different colours onto the paper: yellow, magenta and cyan in that order, and then it lays a clear transparent layer over the top to protect the printer from light and ozone attack. The cover layer also gives the print an attractive, glossy coating. Even with only three-colour prints, black is well reproduced - again, in contrast to three-colour inkjets.
The print film is divided into strips of each colour, just long enough to print a complete 6 x 4 print, so you always know exactly how many prints you will get from a given film. In Samsung's case, this is 40. Working out the costs of printing is very simple. Samsung supplies packs containing ink film and 6 x 4 photo papers in either 40-print or 120-print versions. Not surprisingly you get better economy from the 120-print pack, and using this to calculate print costs gives 27p per photo. This is marginally better than Canon's price and compares well with typical inkjet prices. Samsung provides a ten-print 'starter' pack with the SPP-2040.
Running costs are slightly cheaper than the Canon Selphy CP-500 and the Samsung machine is more flexible, with its memory card readers and colour display. However, it's also twice the price, so for a simple set-up, you might want to consider its smaller Samsung sibling, the SPP-2020, at around £110... or the Selphy.
|More info||The Samsung SPP-2040 site|
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