Photo Printing Comes Home

SAN FRANCISCO (04/19/2000) - More-powerful cameras have brought the digital photo market into focus. Some recently introduced printers that cater to digital shutterbugs may push the digital photo business to the next level.

Photo printers have been available for years, but only recently have digital cameras been able to produce the high-resolution image files that make traditional photo- quality printing possible. And this time around, more-affordable photo printers could encourage more people to give digital cameras a try.

Epson America Inc. (800/873-7766, http://www.epson.com) claims that its new Stylus Photo 870, Stylus Photo 1270, and Stylus Photo 875DC ink-jet printers can reproduce the look-and-feel of traditional silver-halide prints. Epson's printers feature a continuous edge-to-edge 4-by-6-inch snapshot printing system similar to those used in commercial photo labs. All three Epson printers feature 1,440-by-720-dpi resolution and new inks that the company says last longer than its earlier products.

The $299 Stylus Photo 870 and the $399 Stylus Photo 875DC were set to hit the market in early April 2000. The $499 Stylus Photo 1270 should ship in May. It has a wider, 13-inch carriage, making it compatible with more print sizes.

Fujifilm (800/800-3854, http://www.fujifilm.com) has leveraged its experience with conventional film-based photofinishing to offer a different type of printer. The portable FinePix Printer NX-500 uses Fujifilm's Thermo-Autochrome dye-sublimation printing technology to produce 4-by-6-inch, 306-dpi prints in two minutes.

Unlike ink-jet printers, the FinePix requires no inks, toners, or ribbons.

Instead, as in conventional photo printing, the dyes form in the paper. The FinePix should ship in May for $299.

Like Fujifilm, Sony (800/686-7669, http://www.sel.sony.com) uses a dye-sublimation printing process. Sony's UP-DP10 photo printer uses special paper to produce laminated 4-by-6-inch borderless photo prints with 300-dpi resolution. The printer was to ship in April, priced around $389.

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