KODAK Photo Printer 500 Hands On

More exciting than the jump up in their digital camera lineup may be Kodak's hot little portable Photo Printer 500 that's compatible with just about every digital media card out there-and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The smaller than a breadbox (how big is a breadbox, anyway? Let's say smaller than an Aquaman lunchbox) printer has slots for SD, MMC, CF, and xD cards on its front, a USB port on the side and generates pretty durable 4X6 prints on paper seemingly identical to what's used in C-41 processing. At the product demo on a boat that traveled around Manhattan in the driving rain yesterday, grenadine that was poured onto a photo of me (that I had intended to send to my mother) wiped right off. The Bluetooth partnering was a little problematic at this press unveiling, but the rough water on the East river from the driving rain during the launch (Get it? Launch? I kill me.) had the lights dimming a little bit and the straining inverter may have been to blame. The not-ready for prime-time beta models I worked on (final product ships October 4) froze up a couple of times, but the prints that it did produce were fast (done in about a minute) rich, and, well, frameable. An image Blue-beamed in from a Razr and printed was surprisingly credible.

A couple of the tech writers and publicists looked a little green as we pitched up the east river, but I gleefully printed image after image that I previewed on the units' 3.5 LCD screen, channeling my inner photography 101 student. The 500's got simple in-printer fixes like basic cropping, red-eye and contrast, and corny-but-cool sepia and B& W options. The secret weapon here is the ability to print directly from any program like iPhoto or Photoshop, when the printer forgoes the kid-tested and mother-approved algorithms of its KODAK PERFECT TOUCH Technology that makes those wedding/family reunion/graduation pictures all look so similar to each other. Priced at $249, and with printer paper sold in bulk packs that bring the per/print cost down to $.29 per, both Kodak's target grandmas who jones for pictures of little Johnny and Janey and those of us who may have forgotten how much more gratifying it is to hold an actual print in our hands rather than just stare at a somehow more impermanent image on our computer screens may be having some serious talks with Santa on this one.

And mom's still getting that print.

Product Page [Kodak]