DCRP Review: Two Dye-Sub Photo Printers
HiTi PhotoPrinter 630PS, Canon CP-100

by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally Posted: Sunday, August 11, 2000

Last Updated: Wednesday, August 28, 2002

As digital cameras are becoming more popular, people are more and more interested in how they can print their photos. Sure you can always take it to the local photo lab (Fuji and Kodak are really pushing this), or online via Ofoto or Shutterfly, but what if you want your own photo lab? Though it's not the cheapest method, home photo printers are the fastest way to get your prints, and you have total control of the output. The printers themselves may be cheap, but the ink ribbons and paper add up quickly.

In this review, I'll be looking at two photo printers that use dye-sublimation technology. The HiTi PhotoPrinter 630PS ($249) from Hi-Touch Imaging Technologies can be used either as a stand-alone printer, or hooked up to a Windows PC (Mac support is coming soon). A similar 630PL model ($169) lacks the LCD display that you'll see a bit later. I will only be covering the stand-alone functions of this printer.

The other photo printer is Canon's CP-100 ($349). This printer only works with recent Canon cameras, and does not hook into a computer -- yet (Canon plans to offer a kit this Fall which lets you hook it into a Mac or PC). The only button on the printer is the power button, as all the controls are on your camera.

This isn't a comparative review, as I think they don't really compete against each other. The Canon printer can only be used with Canon cameras right now. But since I have both of them, I'm just consolidating things into one review.

What's in the Box?

HiTi PhotoPrinter 630PS

The 630PS includes the following in the box:

  • Printer
  • 10 image ribbon
  • 8 sheets of 4 x 6 inch paper
  • 1 sheet of 4 x 4 sticker paper
  • 1 sheet of 4/2/4 sticker paper
  • Paper cassette
  • LCD controller
  • USB cable
  • Power cable
  • HiTi PhotoDésirée, printer driver, Newsoft Mr. Photo 3.1 software
  • Quick installation guide

Like all photo printers, they give you very little to start with, so buy paper/ink when you buy your printer!

The drivers and software are for Windows only. This printer and 630PL model are not Mac compatible -- yet. Hi Touch is apparently working on drivers, due out later this year.

The manual, if you can call it that, is very brief. It's basically a leaflet with many languages.

The printer just plugs into the wall without any messy power bricks.

Canon CP-100

The CP-100 includes the following in the box:

  • Printer
  • Postcard size ink ribbon
  • 5 sheets of postcard size (4 x 6 inch) paper
  • Paper cassettes (postcard size and card size)
  • Direct interface cables (2)
  • Compact Power adapter
  • Cleaner stick
  • Manual

Same deal here about the "starter kit" of paper and ink, so you'll want to buy more quickly.

This printer is totally stand-alone, so you can't connect it to a computer. Once Canon releases the computer connection kit, this will change. The CP-100 only compatible with Canon digicams. The compatible models are:

  • PowerShot A10*
  • PowerShot A100
  • PowerShot A20*
  • PowerShot A200
  • PowerShot A40
  • PowerShot G2*
  • PowerShot S110*
  • PowerShot S200
  • PowerShot S30*
  • PowerShot S300*
  • PowerShot S330
  • PowerShot S40*

Items marked with a * may require a firmware update.

The CP-100 has a much nicer and more complete manual than the 630PS. It does have a power brick but it has a long cord that plugs into the wall, so it doesn't block other AC outlets.

Look and Feel

HiTi PhotoPrinter 630PS

The 630PS is a pretty small device, though not nearly as small as the CP-100. It easily fits on your desk, and is much smaller than a regular inkjet or laser printer.

As you can see, there's a LCD over on the left, two card slots on the right, and the paper tray on the bottom. When a print is finished, it comes out of the slot just below the vent, above the paper tray. Also, the paper goes out the back of the printer during each pass, so you need some space behind the printer.

Those slots are for SmartMedia and CompactFlash. The CF slot is Type I only, so forget trying to put a Microdrive in there -- it won't fit.

Let's open up that grille on the front and see what's behind it:

Why it's the printer mechanism, of course! One thing to watch out for is the heat -- this is a "thermal transfer" printer, after all. Keep fingers away from the parts inside the printer during and after operation.

You can also see the ink ribbon.

Here's the back of the 630PS. The ports from left to right are USB, remote control, and power. The power switch is at the far right. That USB connection is for hooking into your Windows PC.

Up at the top is the slot where prints will pop out of during printing.

This is a closer look at the remote control. This is how you'll do your printing on the 630PS. In addition to a four-way switch, it has buttons for Escape, OK, Menu, Edit, and Print.

When you turn on the printer, you're presented with the menu shown above. The menu items include:

  • Photo
  • ID Photo (I assume this is for making ID cards, the manual isn't very clear)
  • Index print (6 x 5, 8 x 7, or 5 x 4)
  • Sticker (4 x 4, 4/2/4)
  • Quick Photo (prints image without any setup menus)
  • DPOF (uses print markings and starts printing)
  • Print All
  • Setup (goes to the setup menu)

Let's pretend that you selected Photo from the menu. You then see a screen like this:

The screen only shows 4 images per page, and there's no way to adjust it. Let's select a picture now.

The picture is then shown at full size. The resolution on the LCD is poor, unfortunately. The image on a camera's LCD is far superior. Anyhow, you can use the four-way switch to select the number of prints you want to make. Here, it's just one (top right number).

Let's say you want to edit the image though. The 630PS has several built-in functions for touching up your photos. By pressing the edit button...

... you're presented with these screens. The features here include:

  • Move - moves the image around in the print area
  • Rotate
  • Resize - scale down your image
  • Copies - number of copies to print
  • Enhance (see picture above right)
    • Brightness
    • Contrast
    • Color: Red/Green
    • Color: Blue/Yellow

When you're finally ready to print, just hit the print button and away it goes.

The 630PS takes approximately 2:09 to process and print a 4 x 6 image from the Canon PowerShot A200 (a photo from the Coolpix 5700 took another 10 seconds). Like all the dye sublimation printers I've tested, the printer does a "pass" for yellow, magenta, and cyan. It then does one more pass to put a special protective overcoat on your print.

In addition to regular 4 x 6 paper, Hi-Touch also makes sticker and ID card paper.

Canon CP-100

The CP-100 is one of the smallest printers out there, period. It's sibling, the CP-10, is even smaller. Both are marvels of engineering, if you ask me. Whereas the CP-10 prints on business card sized paper, the CP-100 can print on postcard (4 x 6 inch) paper as well.

As I said, the CP-100 can only be controlled via a compatible Canon digital camera at this time. The one I'm using here is the PowerShot A200.

You can see that the printer isn't much bigger than the camera! Adding that paper tray does make it larger though. There are actually two paper trays included with the printer, and you choose the one appropriate for your paper size.


The back of Canon 4 x 6 paper

Canon has regular 4 x 6 inch paper (styled like a postcard on the back), and card sized (2.1 x 3.4 inch) paper. You can get just regular one-print paper, paper with 8 stickers on it, or peel-off label paper.

Here is the side of the printer, with the ink cartridge removed. You can also see where the proprietary printer-to-camera cable attaches.

And here is the back. The CP-100 is unique in that you can buy a battery pack (sold for $180 with charger) and take it on the road with you. A car power adapter is also available.

Here's how you make a print using the Canon PowerShot A200.

You first select an image on the LCD that you want to print, and you mark it. You can also print instantly by pressing the Set button on the camera.

Here is the menu shown before printing. You can choose bordered or borderless prints, and whether the date is printed on the image in the "style" menu. You also can choose how many copies you want, and what area of the image is printed. There isn't any rotation or resizing tied to the printer -- if your PowerShot has this feature then you can use it.

You can also DPOF mark your photos and then print them all when you're ready.

Just like the 630PS, the CP-100 does four passes per print. It's quite a bit faster at printing, though. The same image that took 2:09 on the 630PS took just 1:18 on the CP-100.

Operating Costs

The table below illustrates the difference in operating costs for the various printers:

  HiTi PhotoPrinter 630PS Canon CP-100
Cost of ink/paper package (4x6) $20 $23
# prints/ink refill 50 36
Price per sheet $0.40 $0.64

All prices were accurate at the time of this review. Prices were taken from FocusCamera.com, one of the few resellers that sell both of these printers.

I think it's pretty obvious which printer is the better deal. The 630PS costs $100 less, works with most cameras, and is substantially cheaper per print.

Print Quality

While this isn't a head-to-head review. I've printed the same photos side-by-side for comparison purposes. These prints were then scanned in. It's not a good idea to judge the quality by the scans, but it may help somewhat.

In my opinion, the HiTi 630PS produced better prints than the Canon CP-100. They were more saturated and sharper. It's not easy to see that in my samples, so you'll have to take my word for it. While the CP-100 may not produce photos as nice as the 630PS, it's certainly no slouch. I think people will be happy with the output from both. Photo quality rivals what you'll get from the photo lab or online photo printing service.

By the way, the print resolution is 300 x 300 dpi for both of these printers. If that sounds low compared to most inkjets, you're right. The difference is that these are continuous tone images -- no dots or dithering. So they look just as good (perhaps better) with less resolution.

Final Thoughts

Both of these printers were a pleasure to use and the prints were impressive. The HiTi PhotoPrinter 630PS was a little more impressive, in my eyes. With the built-in LCD, you don't need to connect to a computer or a camera, though you can do the former if you want, as long as it's running Windows. The prints came out slower than the Canon CP-100's, but they were a bit nicer. The cost per print is substantially less than the Canon and other dye-sub printers. The Canon CP-100 currently supports only Canon cameras. You will be able to hook up to a Mac or PC this fall through an optional kit. So if you want a stand-alone printer and don't have a Canon camera, the CP-100 is not for you. But if you do, it's well worth looking at it.

If possible, take a look at these printers in person, and look at sample prints. The HiTi printer is very hard to find, but the Canon should be easier. Your eyes are the best judge of the print quality. Hopefully this review has covered the features, costs, and usability areas for you.

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