Setting up the PhotoShuttle is easy, all you need to do is load the supplied photopaper which is precut to 4x6 size, insert the dye-ribbon and install the driver prior to connecting the printer to your pc. The supplied drivers have support for MacIntosh or Microsoft operating systems from Windows 98 all the way up to Windows XP, provided a working usb port is available. The printing process, apart from the fact that no ink is used, is different as each color is printed onto the paper in a single pass. So in order to complete the entire printout four passes are needed, one for each color and another for the protective layer. When the printer is printing you値l see the photopaper be passed though it four times in total.
Installing the supplied photo paper into the paper tray, this tray only accepts 4x6 format paper.
One thing to keep in mind though is that images made with a digital camera will need to be cropped, because a digital camera uses a 4:3 image format, the PhotoShuttle however prints on 4x6 paper, which is a 2:3 image format. This means that when printing an image you either loose part of the image痴 top and bottom, or crop the image to fit the format of the paper. The printer actually comes supplied with a dye-ribbon cartridge suitable for ten printouts and eight sheets of 4x6 photo paper and two sticker sheets which you can use to print, for example, passport photos. Honestly we feel that HiTi could致e supplied a bigger batch of sheets and dye-ribbon, as with only eight 4x6 printouts out of the box you値l be off to get a new ribbon and sheets moments after you started using the printer.
The supplied PhotoDesiree allows you to fine tune and add effects to your image, prior to printing.
The print quality is excellent though, especially when the original files are of sufficient resolution. We printed the same images on a 4800 dpi inkjet and brought them to a local photostore, print quality was on par with the photostore printouts and slightly better contrast than the inkjet. Printing is fast as well, in about 45 seconds the printout is completed and the photo can be picked up out of the printer without the need to let it dry first. However printing speed is largely dependant on the speed of the connection, usb 2.0 proved to be a good bit faster than usb 1.1. Also a modern pc, equipped with a Intel Pentium 4, or and AMD Athlon XP processor is recommended as that値l speed up printing considerably, as the postprocessing is done faster.
A video of the PhotoShuttle printing, clearly visible is that each pass prints a color.
As for printing costs, a kit containing fifty 4x6 sheets and a dye-ribbon good for fifty printouts will sells at $ 25, so a single printout will cost you $ 0.50. This is about the same price you値l pay for a printout at a photostore, excluding the processing costs, and cheaper than most inkjet printer with a true 4800 dpi resolution. If you factor in the cost of the printer you値l end up spending a little more, but you値l have the convenience of printing your images at home whenever you want. The fixed resolution of the HiTi PhotoShuttle, comparable to 4800 dpi inkjet, it痴 color accuracy and the fact that the printouts are waterproof, smearproof and overcoated to protect them against UV fading means that this printer will satisfy all your 4x6 printout needs. We can only give the HiTi PhotoShuttle two thumbs up, it comes highly recommended as a printer for those that like to print their images at home in a similar quality as at a photostore.
Manufacturer: Hi-Touch Imaging Technologies
Price: +/- $150 or 199 euro