The printer driver itself is a simple affair – it doesn’t need to be as complex as a conventianal A4 printer, which has to cope with many different paper sizes and print options. Here, you’re printing to a standard size paper and there is little to select other than portrait or landscape orientation. You can alter the colour saturation, but that’s about it.
Making four passes through the printer slows down the overall print time for the Selphy CP500, but we still saw a borderless print emerge in 46 seconds when we printed from a PC. We also used a Canon Ixus 40 to print direct and were surprised that this took 37 per cent longer, at 63 seconds. Both times compare well with inkjet photo print times, though, which can hit 150 seconds for the same size print.
Print quality is little short of stunning. Free of the inherent dottiness of an inkjet, the Selphy is able to bring a clarity not normally seen on home prints and there’s sufficient definition in the 300dpi output to reproduce even fine details exceptionally well.
You might expect a printer like this to be virtually silent in operation, and the printing process itself is little more than a slight crackle as the ink is transferred from the carrier film. Driving the card backwards and forwards for each pass of the print head, though, involves a high-pitched whine from the feed motors, which is at an annoying pitch and was measured at 59dBA – not quiet.
The printer comes with cards and ink for just five prints, which seems stingy, though a consumables pack for 36 prints costs just £11, giving a cost per 6 x 4-inch print of just over 30p. This isn’t bad, given typical costs for inkjet photo printers of up to 50p per print. It’s arguably more convenient to buy all your consumables together in a matched pack, too, though you would need around three Canon packs for the same number of prints as a single inkjet cartridge would give.
If you want a printer specifically for printing photos and are never going to want to print above 6 x 4-inch prints, the Selphy CP500 is cheaper to run, quicker to print and produces higher quality images than any inkjet photo printer we’ve yet seen. It may be unconventional, but it does a great job.