Mini-photo printers may seem old hat in these days of do-anything inkjets, but they still hold some appeal for people who don’t need to print anything bigger than a postcard.
Actually, mini-photo printers such as Agfaphoto’s AP 2300 also have another advantage: they can produce dot-free, continuous-tone prints that are that are water-fast and smudge resistant.
Dye-sub printers use a heated plastic ribbon to transfer colour to paper passed beneath it. Four passes of the paper are required – one each for cyan, magenta and yellow, plus a transparent top layer – and the spent ribbon is wound from one spool to another in the process. Most dye-sub printers use some kind of cassette to make fitting new ribbon simpler, but the AP 2300 simply has naked spools that need to be carefully dropped into the printer’s insides (think of the Andrex TV ads for an idea of what can happen if you’re not careful).
Although not the largest printer around, the AP 2300’s footprint is still around three times the size you might expect. Its 6x4in paper cassette juts from the front of the printer, and pages are also repeatedly poked from the back by the paper feed as the dye-sub print process lays down each colour.
Fortunately, all this fiddling doesn’t detract from the AP 2300’s performance. Photo prints on postcard paper were rich, detailed and indistinguishable from high-street photos. We expect nothing less from a dye-sub printer, but the quality was still a touch better than Canon’s Selphy ES30, and it was faster when printing six photos. One problem was that the printer driver’s borderless print option was ignored when printing from a PC, but scaling up prints in an application’s own print options gets around this.
Agfaphoto’s AP 2300 (sold by Argos as the AP2300, with no space) is £20 cheaper than Canon’s ES30, but that saving is gobbled up when you buy the first refill pack after using the five sheets of paper provided. A 150-sheet pack containing paper and a print spool costs £39, which gives a cost per page of 26p. This isn’t bad value, but others are cheaper.