The 730PS takes in sheets of photo paper from a tray at the front and feeds them to a start position at the back. The paper is then fed through the machine to come into contact with the thin sheet of plastic, coated with solid, coloured dye. A full-width thermal print head heats the dye very fast, so it sublimes – turns to vapour – and transfers from the plastic sheet to the photo paper. The printer lays down all the yellow in the image, then backs the paper up and repeats with magenta and cyan, before overlaying with an invisible gloss coating to protect the print.
You might expect print times, because of the four-part process, to be long, but in fact the 730PS produced an 8 x 6in print in a respectable one minute 36 seconds. Working from a memory card took only a little while longer, completing in one minute 49 seconds.
Print quality in resolution terms is excellent, but we were disappointed with the colours, which came through with a brown, rather lacklustre hue. You can, of course, correct for this, but we’d expect a more accurate rendition at the default settings. The brownish tint applied to prints from both PC and memory cards.
Running costs are very easy to calculate, as you buy consumables in a pack of either 30 or 50, including paper and film cartridge, depending on size of print. For 8 x 6in prints, a 30 print pack costs £21, giving a cost per print of 71p. This doesn’t compare too well with a typical inkjet print, such as from the Lexmark P315, which is around 29p. Admittedly, this is for a smaller, 6 x 4in print, but if you double the cost, for double the area, you’re still looking at only 58p.
This is a novel approach to producing as close to true photographic print from a computer printer as is possible. It’s very easy to use and Hi-Touch claims the printer is popular with professional photographers. They must be able to get more natural colour reproduction than we achieved, though.