Kodak wirelessly enables photo printer

Wireless connectivity and an auto-enhance function are some of the new features added to Kodak's popular line of photo printers.

The wireless connectivity means images taken on the increasingly common camera phones, or other picture-taking devices which are fitted with Bluetooth chips, can be instantly printed on the Kodak EasyShare Printer Dock Plus.

All of Kodak’s Printer Dock Plus units that are available now are shipped with an IrDA port and this enables images to be transmitted and printed wirelessly. However, the Bluetooth adapter is an optional accessory which will only be available for sale in October.

The EasyShare Printer Dock Plus sells for $399. The existing Kodak EasyShare Printer Dock sells for $299.

Another feature incorporated into the new printer is the Auto-Enhance Button. According to Steve Morley, Kodak's GM for digital and film imaging systems, the printer corrects underexposed shots before they are printed. He said this was due to a powerful Kodak algorithm incorporated into the printer. "You simply apply this Kodak algorithm to brighten the image," he said.

Kodak has had some success with the printer dock family. According to Lisa Murphy, from research company GfK, the Kodak Printer Dock topped the organised sales channel in June with approximately 12 per cent market share. This channel includes large retailers such as Harvey Norman, Dick Smith Electronics and department stores. However, in the total retail channel in June, which includes independent retailers such as Betta Electrical, RetraVision, and computer specialists, Kodak sat behind Canon. Murphy said that in June, looking at the whole retail channel, the Canon i560 desktop printer was the number-one-selling printer.

Like the previous model, Printer Dock Plus also incorporates PictBridge technology that allows printing directly from other manufacturers' cameras which support the standard. SD/MMC memory cards (which are used in Kodak cameras) are supported directly, thanks to a built-in card slot. There is also an optional external 8-in-1 memory card reader for all the other popular card formats.

Printer Dock Plus allows users to print one, two, four or nine images on 4x6in paper. Printing shots with white borders is also possible. Kodak claims the new printer dock prints about 30 seconds faster than the previous model, now taking only about 60 seconds to print one image. The new printer dock works with Windows 98 and above, and requires 64MB of RAM (128MB RAM for Windows XP OS) and 200MB hard drive space. It also connects to a PC via USB.

Consumables, in the form of a colour cartridge and photo paper kit that includes 40 prints, cost $39.95.

In conjunction with the printer, Kodak has also released a new 5Mp camera -- the DX7590. The camera, which retails for $899, is fitted with a 10x optical zoom and 2.2in LCD screen.

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