If you want to use the printer with a PC or Mac, simply install the application software and driver and connect the cable. The driver works like any other, though options are limited to what's necessary for photo print.
Many people will use the printer in its standalone state, though, and some may add the optional lithium ion battery, good for 50 photo prints per charge, and the Bluetooth adapter which gives the ES20 wireless capabilities.
Each print has to make four passes through this printer, to build up the yellow, magenta and cyan colour layers and a clear overcoat to protect the image. Even so, we produced a print in 73 seconds using a PictBridge connection from a camera and slightly longer, 79 seconds, printing from a PC or memory card.
While these times aren't spectacular, with the Epson PictureMate PM290, for example, finishing in just 43 seconds, nearly twice as fast, it's not nearly as entertaining to watch as the Selphy. One visitor to our lab said it was like watching the photographs develop before your eyes.
As dye-sublimation print is a dry process, photos are usable as soon as they come out of the printer and the postcard blanks Canon provides are marked out with areas for a message, address and even a postage stamp on the back. Print quality is good, though by default colours are dark and shadowed areas almost completely black, losing quite a lot of detail.
One of the main advantages of dye-sublimation printing is that there are no visible dots in the image. Even under a magnifying glass, it appears like a traditional silver halide photograph, giving a smooth transition between colours and a fine level of detail.
There's only one consumable in the Selphy ES20, a combination cartridge containing paper and film for 50 colour prints (a 25 print black and white cartridge is also available). The 100 print box, which is cheaper per print, contains two cartridges. The cheapest we could find this for was £15.50p, giving a cost per print of 15.5p. This is slightly more than the cost of recent Epson and HP photo printers, but we're only talking a penny per print, so this shouldn't worry you too much.
This is a very neat and functional standalone photo printer, where you don't need to carry a separate pack of paper, but you will need the optional battery pack and charger if you intend to use it away from the mains. Prints may need some brightness adjustment, but overall its ease-of-use and convenience outweigh this.