Kodak has done remarkably well in making the transition from conventional silver halide photography, where it was the major player in the consumer market, to its digital equivalent. As well as a full range of consumer cameras, the company produces neat photo printers, based on continuous-tone, thermal dye transfer. The best selling of these is the EasyShare printer dock plus series 3 (EasyShare printer dock from now on), designed to mate directly with a range of Kodak cameras, including the one the company supplied for evaluation, the P880.
The EasyShare printer dock is a cashbox-sized device, made a bit less neat by a separate, black-block power supply and a paper feed tray, which projects by a good 200mm from the front of the machine. On top of the box is a plug which fits in the underside of a variety of Kodak cameras, via an adapter customised to each specific model. These adapter plates are provided with the cameras, so there was one for the P880 in its box.
The printer is a mass of buttons and lights, with 17 assorted LEDs illuminating seven buttons and a four-way, camera-style control ring. Thankfully, they only come on together during the start-up diagnostic, but they emphasise that this printer is more feature-rich than Canon’s Selphy CP500 or Samsung’s SPP-2040, both of which use the same printing engine as the Kodak device.
For a start, it’s Bluetooth-enabled, so you can print from Bluetooth camera phones, and it has a SD card slot in the side, with an option to connect a Kodak seven-way card reader if your camera doesn’t use SD. It can do red-eye reduction on its own, without a PC present, and it can show a slide-show of your photos on a TV, using the supplied video lead.
The EasyShare printer dock uses a thin-film ribbon, which runs the full width of the print, as a carrier for the thermal dye which is transferred to the paper using a thermal head. This produces prints without the dots of inkjet or laser print and is known as continuous tone printing. It looks more like a traditional photograph.
To work with a compatible Kodak camera, all you need do is fit the adapter plate for your camera to the top of the printer dock and plug the camera in backwards, with its LCD display towards the front. This way, you can use the LCD to review and select images for printing.