Quick high-quality photo prints on-location at events.
A few years ago, I went to a friend’s wedding. They had their photographer set up a photo booth. The idea was to give guests the opportunity to capture fun, light-hearted moments that were happening at the reception. The photo booth printed out two copies of each set of photos so that there was one for a scrapbook and one for the guest to take home. I always thought this, along with the do-it-yourself photo printers at drugstores were a great way to have instant verification that the photo you took was worth keeping. I had sometimes wondered though what it would be like to have one of those instant printers at my house. I actually had the opportunity to test out the Mitsubishi CP-D90DW Premium High-Speed Digital Photo Printer, which is designed to reside in one of those self-service kiosks that are popular in malls and drugstores nowadays.
The Mitsubishi CP-D90DW Premium High-Speed Digital Photo Printer is designed especially for event photographers and photo booth integrators. It prints using a single roll of 6” media, but users have the option to print four different sizes — 2×6, 4×6, 6×6 and 6×8. I ended up simply printing out 4×6 copies of photos that had been stored on my phone. The printer is a dye-sublimation printer that actually requires minimal installation space. It includes onboard image processing that allows devices with low computing power to run the printer.
The unit I had the privilege of testing out came with an Intel NUC Mini PC Kit. I can’t comment on the set-up between the PC kit and the printer because it came to me pre-setup. Together the printer and the PC kit create the SELFONE Wireless Print Station that can be used as an event photo booth. The Intel NUC unit that was paired with the printer I was testing isn’t the only option for a controller unit. There are drivers available for Windows version 7 or higher in 32/64 bit, MAC OS or Linux x86 based computers. These connected devices act as a portal between the printer and other devices — namely mobile phones. The image processing is off-loaded to the printer, which lets the computer focus on other tasks.
Even though the computing system was set-up prior to my use, I did have physically set up the system. Out of the box, I had to connect the NUC unit to the printer using a USB 2.0 Type B cable. I thought this was outrageous considering how outdated that technology is. I don’t know what the reasoning would be for using this type of cable versus a newer type of USB cable, but I was still shocked to see this type of cable being used. The NUC unit had its own power supply/cable to connect and so did the printer. So, if you are using this system, be aware that you need two separate power outlets.
In addition to connecting the printer and the computing unit, I also had to install the ink ribbon and the printer paper. This was a little complicated simply because it was difficult to determine how each of the rolls was supposed to be placed into the printer — what direction they were supposed to be pointed. The instructions are a little ambiguous as the illustrations just aren’t very clear. The first time I installed the paper I actually didn’t have it installed completely and so I wasn’t able to print. I kept receiving a printing error. This was frustrating as I didn’t know what the cause of the issue was until I spoke with someone at Mitsubishi. Once all of the pieces and parts are connected, you are ready to start printing.
The concept behind this wireless printing station is to allow users to connect directly to it so they can print their photos. “Shoot, send, print” is the process that is marketed along with this system. With that in mind, the set-up process wouldn’t be visible to the end-user and all they would base their opinion on is how easy it is to connect to the system and receive their print. As far as speed and quality go, this system is a perfect 10. I was surprised at how incredibly fast prints exited the printer and how they were already dry and ready to be handled. When it came to the interface that a user has to use in order to print, I was pretty disappointed.
The ‘app’ is a web-based app. I’m actually not sure if there are opportunities for owners to customize how users experience this, but the app I used felt like a throwback to the original iPhone apps. I had to navigate through the process using Safari on my iPhone (or iPad) and at times connection errors prevented me from being able to send photos to the printer. The basic process is this:
- Connect to the WiFi signal from the printer. You will be automatically taken to your mobile web browser and will see a screen that says, “Connected to Wi-Fi Print service”.
- Tap on “Start Application” and then agree to the Terms and Conditions shown on the screen. NOTE: This is a step that you end up having to choose every time you use the app and sometimes between selecting photos.
- Once you agree to the Terms and Conditions, a menu will appear for you to select photos from your Photo Library, your Camera (take a new photo), or you can Browse your device.
- I primarily used my Photo Library while testing. So, you select an individual image and then it uploads to the printer.
- The printer processes and prints the image. Then you can select a new image and continue the process from there.
If you are printing multiple images (I chose to print out dozens from a wedding I captured as a gift to the couple – so it was a lengthy process), it can be a tedious process. I used this printer for quite a few days and could not find any option to select multiple photos at one time. I could understand this being a feature that is limited for-profit purposes (only allowing people to print one at a time so they can be paid for individually), but from my standpoint, it was a painful problem to deal with.
As I mentioned above, I did run into several issues with connectivity. At times I would receive an “Unable to establish connection – server unavailable” or “Cannot Download Photo” error when attempting to select photos for printing. The photos were already on my phone so I don’t know where the ‘downloading’ problem came from. I think there are just some bugs in the system that are unavoidable from the end-user perspective.
Even though I found some unfriendly issues with the system interface and physical set-up of the SELFONE Wireless Print Station, I was incredibly happy with the quality of the prints it produced. They were true to the colors on my phone’s screen and they were just stunning. The system that was sent to me retails for around $1,000. I could see this being a worthy investment for professional photographers who want to offer their clients a quick, easy way to print their photos. It’s also good for what it’s intended for, which is a photo print station at a given location — like a mall or drugstore.