This is not a normal printer. For a start, it uses dye sublimation to produce a print with no dots – not even under a magnifying glass. You operate it with a small, handheld controller and it rolls sheets of photo paper backwards and forwards under its print head four times for each print. It uses no ink and no toner, but you pay a constant price for each print, no matter how much of the paper is covered. Intrigued?
This printer is from the upper end of a range of products from the Taiwanese company Hi-Touch, which are now available in the UK. They vary in price and specification, such as the size of prints they can produce, the resolution they print at and whether they print from camera memory cards, a PC, or both.
The 730PS is coloured metallic blue and is much more upright than typical photo printer designs. A paper tray slots into the front of the device and paper eventually ejects from a slot just above, to rest on top of the tray’s lid.
Directly above the paper slot is a hinged cover, giving access to the film cartridge. This quite flimsy consumable is all the printer needs to print. It consists of a length of thin, clear-plastic film, coated with strips of dye in the three primary print colours, plus a clear coating.
The 730PS can handle several different sizes of print: 6 x 4, 7 x 5 and 8 x 6in, and you simply remove the film cartridge and paper and replace them with different consumables to swap between them. Hi-Touch helpfully provides resealable bags to keep the consumables in when they’re not in use.
To the right of the cartridge cover are two memory card slots, where you can plug in most of the common formats, except Fuji’s xD format. More importantly, there’s no support for direct connection of a PictBridge camera, which would definitely increase the versatility of the printer. This feature is available on the Hi-Touch 641PS, but that’s a lower resolution device.
The so-called Wizard Window, actually a tethered remote control for the printer, could be seen as a gimmick – the controls could as easily have been worked into the main body of its case. In fact, though, it’s much easier to use the colour LCD and simple controls for viewing thumbnails and controlling the printer’s menu system, with the remote in your hand.
The driver and application software are easy to install and the PhotoDesirée software is both well-designed and well-geared to the 730PS. It includes facilities to emboss the special clear coating which protects each print with a design to personalise it. By default, these designs include all the symbols of the Zodiac and Chinese year animals.