Six tips for picking a photo printer

Photo printers come in all shapes and sizes. Here's how to figure out which one is right for you.

A Snapshot Printer Offers Simplicity and Fun

Choose a snapshot printer if you want walk-up convenience and simplicity. Snapshot printers do not need a PC to operate; just insert a media card or connect your camera to the printer, and you can select and print photos quickly. These models are small enough to carry with you to a party, and some offer a battery option for truly portable printing at a picnic or other outdoor event.

As a rule, the less-expensive models permit only basic editing such as red-eye removal along with (perhaps) clip art, sepia-toning, or borders. Higher-end models also let you add captions, draw on the image, and print layouts such as albums or calendars, among other things. But don't pay for the extra features unless you really intend to use them (or want to impress the neighbors).

A snapshot printer uses one of two technologies: the commonly known inkjet, or dye sublimation, which involves transferring ink from a continuous roll to paper. We have tested both kinds of printers and recommend that you buy a dye-sublimation model. Inkjet technology (which the Epson PictureMate PM235 uses) tends to use more ink cleaning and aligning printheads, while photos are typically more expensive.

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