Olympus P-10 photo printer

On first look, you could be forgiven for thinking the Olympus P-10 Digital Photo Printer is a small form factor PC. But while it has a bare bones look about it, there is certainly nothing bare about the quality.

The P-10 uses dye-sublimation technology to produce photo-quality prints. Instead of spraying jets of ink onto a page as ink jet printers do, dye-sublimation printers apply a dye from a dry ribbon. Heat diffuses the dye onto specially treated paper.

The printer outputs either 3.5x5in or 4x6in prints. It can print with either white borders or none. For some reason the white borders are not symmetrical -- the top/bottom borders measure approximately 0.5cm compared to the side borders at 1.5cm. It just gives the image a tad more white in the photo than you need and is rather offsetting to the eye.

Olympus claims the P-10 can process and print in less than 45 seconds. Our tests didn't match that. On average, it took about 12 seconds for the PC to process once you have pressed print and then 60 seconds to apply the colour to the paper.

Once printed, the image quality looks fantastic to the naked eye. You really have to strain to detect any blemishes. You also need not worry about moisture. The ink, once fused to the paper, is water resistant and won't bleed, as it does with some inkjet colour photo prints.

The P-10 features a USB interface for connecting to a computer. It also supports PictBridge, the standard for outputting digital camera photos directly to printers, meaning you can bypass your PC altogether. Installing the printer software on a PC gives you more options, such as brightness and paper selection, than printing directly from the camera. One feature, for example, allows you to apply header or footer information to the image before printing, using a range of fonts.

At 2.3kg it is a bit weighty to carry around. And because it does not have battery support you are restricted to using it in a location with electrical power. This may be a setback if you like mobile printing.

The P-10 retails for $199. Consumables come in two packages. A P-P40 (40 sheet print pack -- ink ribbon and paper) costs $39.95; while the P-P100 (100 sheet print pack -- ink ribbon and paper) is priced at $79.95. The latter works out at 80 cents per page -- still a tad high compared to competing home photo printers. However, while the sheets of paper may run out, the ink will keep on going. We managed almost 200 prints on the one ink ribbon.

With the P-10, Olympus has put itself seriously on the home photo-printing map. And if you don't mind a slightly bulkier than normal printer, and are happy to be limited to a maximum size of 4x6 prints, then the P-10 is worth considering.

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Howard Dahdah

PC World
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