capsule review

Kodak EasyShare Photo Printer 500

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Kodak EASYSHARE 500 Dye Sublimation Printer

    PCWorld Rating

    Easy to operate with a nice, large screen, but its overall print quality falls short.

The $150 (as of 11/3/2006) Kodak EasyShare Photo Printer 500 closes up into a compact and very portable box. Its large 3.5-inch LCD flips up from the top of the printer, but the screen's relatively low resolution means you'll notice the pixels as you preview your images. The printer is easy to operate via the logically laid-out buttons, though the on-screen menus are more basic and less appealing than the more graphical designs some rival printers use. While printing, you must allow space for the long paper tray that slots into the front.

Two media slots permit printing directly from the most common digital camera memory card formats. A third slot accepts an optional $100 Wi-Fi card for printing from laptop computers and other wireless devices. The EasyShare 500 has built-in Bluetooth connectivity, so you can print from Bluetooth-enabled camera phones and other handhelds.

The PictBridge-enabled USB port accepts flash drives, but my first attempt at printing from a Lexar Media 128MB JumpDrive Secure failed to work (a second try with a Sandisk Cruzer succeeded). Also, the printer can't output images larger than 3.5MB, a file size easy to reach when you're shooting at the highest quality setting on many newer digital cameras.

You can use the on-board editing function and the LCD to crop your images, fix red-eye, and apply simple effects, such as changing from color to sepia or black-and-white. You can also run slide shows on the printer screen, but the unit has no A/V outputs for connecting to a TV.

When you've connected the device to your PC with the supplied USB cable, you can transfer images from the media slots to your computer. However, since it moves the data at slower USB 1.1 speeds, you could be in for a long wait if you have a lot of shots to upload. The included Kodak EasyShare Software makes organizing and editing your photos simple, and you can upload to Kodak's EasyShare Gallery Web site for sharing with family and friends.

The printer comes with enough paper and dye-sublimation ribbon for just 10 4-by-6-inch prints. Prints are cheapest if you buy a $47 pack that combines eight ribbons with 160 sheets of paper (the replacement ribbons print 20 images each). At just over 29 cents each, the per-print price is competitive with the costs of online printing services. Note, though, that the paper uses perforated tabs at each end (which leave a slightly rough edge when you tear them off) to feed smoothly through the printer.

In our tests the EasyShare 500 printed at a steady 0.7 pages per minute from images stored on an SD Card. Unfortunately, its print quality was not as consistent. We saw some smooth tones and sharp details, but also many inaccurate colors (such as reddish skin tones) and blown-out highlights. Our shot of a mountain meadow looked old and faded, as if we had left it in the sun. Our black-and-white sample came out too light and had a magenta cast. Several of the prints had a dark vertical band running through the same position on the photos.

In two informal moisture tests, we looked for defects after sprinkling water on week-old (and therefore dry) snapshot prints. Then we dunked them in water for 30 seconds and wiped them dry. The EasyShare 500's prints didn't show any obvious ill effects after either test.

Paul Jasper

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Easy to operate with a nice, large screen, but its overall print quality falls short.

    Pros

    • Large, 3.5-inch color LCD
    • Reasonable cost per print

    Cons

    • Slow printing
    • Variable print quality
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