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8/10

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It's not clear how the concept of a printer in a bucket got past the concept stage, but Canon's mushroom-shaped SELPHY CP790 certainly makes for an interesting review. At first glance, it looks like something Fisher Price might have thought up, but it's still a very practical solution to the problem of carrying around all the bits and pieces needed to get this dye-sublimation printer working.

The printer itself is much like Canon's other small dye-sub machines, it's just that this one has an oval, lime green top, into the top of which are set a 76 mm LCD display and a series of five pushbuttons. In the centre of these is a four-way selection cross with, embedded in the middle, one of Canon's click wheels for browsing quickly through menus.

Each of the sides of the mushroom’s 'stem' includes a door or sockets. On the left are sockets for the small, white power block, which delivers low-voltage DC to power the whole machine, a USB socket for connection to a PC or Mac and a PictBridge socket for printing directly from the camera.

On the right is a cover for the film cartridge. SELPHY printers work by transferring solid ink from a very thin film ribbon onto the glossy photo paper, using a thermal print head. The cartridge supplied with the printer is enough for just five photos, but consumables are available in 36-print and 108-print packs, which include both paper and cassettes.

At the front are sockets for SD, MemoryStick and CompactFlash cards. There's an infrared sensor too, and a Bluetooth adapter is available as an option. Also at the front is a pull-down flap so you can plug in a paper cassette when printing. Two are supplied with the printer, one for 15 x 10 cm postcards and the other for business card-sized prints. At the back is a socket for the printer paper to feed out between each printing pass.

All the parts fit in an oval, green bucket and the printer clips into its top, completing what is a very convenient way of transporting the machine. The bucket comes complete with a handle, though no spade. The whole system loses a little in portability, as you have to pay extra for the optional battery.

The printer comes with an applet called SELPHY Photo Print and a print driver and is compatible with both Windows and OS X.

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