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Canon Zoemini review: An indulgently average pocket printer

Simon Handby
1 Dec 2020
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
90
Inc VAT

It’s tiny, fun and slightly better than HP’s Sprocket, but Canon’s Zoemini is still a bit of an indulgence

Pros 
Highly portable
A simple way to enjoy instant photos
Cons 
App needs clearer instructions
Expensive price per print
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The Zoemini photo printer is Canon’s answer to the HP Sprocket. About the size of a thick, small smartphone, it’s highly portable yet contains everything you need to print 2x3in photos, beamed via Bluetooth. We reviewed the standalone printer, but the range includes the Zoemini C and Zoemini S, each of which combines a printer and digital camera in a single device.

Buy now from Canon 


Canon Zoemini review: Features

This printer’s similarity with HP’s first-generation Sprocket is striking, and probably not a coincidence. Like the Sprocket family, the Zoemini uses Zink’s specialised ink-free paper, available in packs of 20 or 50. Slide open the cover, load a bundle of 10 sheets, and the printer spits out the blue information page and is ready to go. You’ll also need Canon’s Mini Print app, available for iOS and Android phones; there are no PC or Mac drivers.

Pairing the phone and printer is painless, but you may then encounter a firmware update; although ours was handled seamlessly, the data took several minutes to transfer. After that you can use the app to browse through the photos on your device, selecting and printing as you would with any other printer.

Links on the app home screen cover the camera and gallery, and connected social platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Google Photos and Dropbox. Elsewhere the app is overrun by icons for its various editing functions, and it takes time to understand what all of them do. You can apply a range of colour, border, sticker and text edits to photos, and experiment with augmented reality ‘enhancements’ in the camera view. These are similar to, but more limited than, Snapchat’s filters: mostly you can just add glasses, or some borderline- unpleasant facial distortions.

Canon Zoemini review: Design and performance

Zink paper combines distinct yellow, cyan and magenta layers. Initially the dyes are in clear crystals, but by applying heat pulses of different length and intensity, the printer can melt them, revealing the dyes to create a full-colour picture. Unlike dye-sublimation printers, it happens in a single pass. With the Zoemini we timed a single print at 48 seconds, slightly faster than the HP Sprocket New Edition. Although it’s quiet, the noise of printing has a harsh edge.

Print quality isn’t a strength of the Zink system – you’d get better results from an inkjet – but photos from the Zoemini were noticeably better than those from the Sprocket. While the latter tended to overexpose prints, bleaching out some lighter areas and adding a reddish tint for good measure, prints from the Zoemini are more neutral, manifested most noticeably in natural-looking skin tones. There’s a slightly darker bias, preserving more information in light skies and lightly exposed faces, but the flipside is a loss of shade detail in some prints.

Canon Zoemini review: Verdict

The Zoemini isn’t designed as a general-purpose printer: it’s aimed at kids, backpackers, students, and anyone else who might want to produce and share instant photos. While we could grumble on about it being an indulgence, and how each print costs 44p, that would be missing the point. The Zoemini is a fun way to remember and share good times, and it’s slightly better at it than HP’s Sprocket.

Buy now from Canon


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