I've never included a printer in any computer system that I've owned
(well, I gave away the one that came free with my iBook). I just
didn't see the point of having one around, and buying that ridiculously
expensive ink (let's not even talk about photo paper) for the one time
in a year that I might want to print something.
Then there came a time when I had an ongoing desire to print
photographs (of Edward, and his Zen gardens). I still wasn't going
to deal with the hassle of a printer, especially when I happened
across a Kodak Photo Printer in a drug store one day. I figured
an actual print shop (Kinko's?) might have better — as it
turns out, they had the same thing.
Over the course of several months, I made obeisance to the tall
yellow machine quite a few times, filling my office wall with
Zen gardens and my home with Edward. It was relatively easy:
- take the memory card out of my camera
- copy the pictures onto my computer with a USB card reader
- perhaps make a few simple edits, such as cropping, with GIMP
- trot down to Kinko's, card in hand
- insert the card into the Photo Printer
- use the simple touchscreen menu to choose the pictures I wanted
to print, and in what size and quantity
- pay about US$5.00 per sheet, which could contain 1 8x10, 2 5x7s,
or myriad smaller renditions
I spent probably about US$150, maybe US$200, in all. You might say I
could get a printer for that, but I still don't want the hassle. And
the printer in the kiosk
, even though it is something you could buy
yourself if you wanted to, is a good laser printer
, not an inkjet
other cheapy, so I think I'm still ahead, even if you only count up
Geez, C-Dawg, (you may be wondering
about now) have you looked at the
title of this node?
And the big cheeses at Sony looked upon this, and
saw Kodak getting all the business, and saw that it was not good.
Hey, they said, we can throw together some
little turnkey PC-and-printer setup just as well as they can. And
cut some deal with Kinko's to install ours.
So Sony made the Sony PictureStation, and Kinko's threw out all
their thousands of flat yellow Kodak Photo Printers and replaced
them with the more stylish Sony's with their nice brushed steel
finish. They probably figured their customers wouldn't notice any
real difference, right?
Well, let me tell you, there is a difference, easily
spotted if you've used both. On my maiden voyage into the land of
Sony, here are some things that immediately made me want to hang
some Sony programmers from a yardarm.
- You have to choose the size print that you want before you're
shown the menu containing your pictures.
- So you choose the size, then you see the pictures and you choose
the ones you want, and how many.
- Then you have to remove your media
- Now, if you want more prints, say of a different size, you have
to reinsert your media, then choose the pictures
you want to print at that size.
- Eventually, when you're done (or you hope you are — there's
no summary of what you've selected), you press Go or
something, and the machine tells you to go find an employee to
enter the password so it will print your pictures.
- Now you find that, while the 8x10s are okay on one normal 8½ by
11 inch sheet of paper, the 5x7s are printed off of a
roll and come out with a tremdous curl. Setting
one on the table, the middle arches up 1½ inches off the
surface. Perfect for framing.
- While printing my 5x7s, the machine ran out of its special
roll of paper, and it took the employee about ten minutes to replace
In contrast, the Kodak system shows you all the pictures on
the screen, and starts the printing process as soon as you choose the
picture and how many you want. The only drawback some might see is that
on the Kodak, you always get a complete sheet, so if you want a 5x7, you'll
get two of them; if you want a wallet size, you'll get sixteen (or something),
while with the Sony you can get exactly one if that's all you want. The flip side of that is that Sony's 5x7 print is borderless; with Kodak's two-up print, you have some white
border (which I happen to like). Sorry,
Sony, I'm not persuaded.
Next time I've got pictures to print, I'll find a drug store or
photofinisher that has a Kodak Photo Printer.
 I don't know what they actually said, but this doesn't
seem too unlikely.