So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Sagem Photo Easy 260
- Rich colours, fast printing, reasonable cost
- No Bluetooth built-in, No USB Flash memory support
The Photo Easy 260 is a commendable entry into the photo printer market but needs a little work to knock out the competition.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
French company Sagem has brought to market the Photo Easy 260, a dye sublimation printer. With the printer Sagem makes a valiant effort but falters in a handful of key areas including print quality and functionality.
The modern design of the Sagem includes retro touches in a muted colour scheme of dark grey and silver with a contoured front and squared back. The paper tray is mounted on the front of the printer and doubles as an exit platform for the finished prints. Nine flash memory formats (SmartCards, xD cards, CompactFlash, MMC, SD and Sony Memory Stick) are supported through the card reader slots on the right side of the printer. USB ports are located on the rear of the unit, one for connecting to a PC and the other for connecting to digital cameras via PictBridge. Unlike the and the SPP-2040, the Photo Easy 260 does not support connection to USB flash memory sticks - something we discovered after plugging a Corsair 1GB flash drive into the PictBridge slot. In addition to the card reader and USB options, images can also be printed via infrared or Bluetooth. The Bluetooth option is not built-in and requires a dongle to be purchased at an additional cost.
The display on the top of the printer is set to a fixed position: To view the screen you need to stand over the device and look down. A current trend for photo printer displays is towards LCDs that pop-up from the unit, allowing the display to be clearly visible while seated.
The print quality is rather good with no colour misalignments and reasonably accurate colour representations. However, prints weren't precise in their reproduction, with many shades appearing a little darker than the original source. This wasn't too much of a problem as the difference was marginal with prints still acceptable.
The Photo Easy 260 includes a function called Crystal Image designed to automatically optimise images for printing. When the Crystal Image function was employed the differences in prints were significant. The primary colours were richer but at the expense of contrast. Dark areas became darker to the point that some detail may not appear. Further with Crystal Image on, fine details were lost resulting in slightly unrealistic scenes and skin tones becoming block colours.
The on-screen interface is quite simple to use albeit arduous. To print photos you have to add each one individually to the print queue - it's a process that could do with refinement.
During initial testing problems arose with the paper feed tray. After each print, the printer would inform us that the tray was out of paper. This occurred for 16 of the 20 test prints. To continue printing we had to remove the tray, re-insert it and press continue. This problem seemed highly irregular, so we contacted Sagem and requested a second test unit. The replacement printer worked a charm with no paper catchment problems at all.
Printing times are as advertised with most prints hitting the quoted 60 second mark without a problem. The drive train and motors in the Sagem are louder than other photo printers we have reviewed.
The printer ships with paper and ink for five photos, probably just enough for you to get a handle on using the Photo Easy 260. Consequently you will also need to purchase a print pack when you buy this unit. The standard pack that Sagem sells allows for 40 prints and costs $39, an average of 97.5 cents per print. Sagem also sell a 120 print pack for $79 which lessens the printing cost to 65 cents per print.
The Photo Easy 260 is a commendable entry into the market, although further product refinement would be welcome. While the printer is more expensive to run than products such as the , dye sublimation does mean shorter print times.
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