The Canon Selphy CP740 is a compact photo printer that employs dye-sublimation, a printing process that uses heat to transfer images onto printable surfaces.
Though the CP740 is advertised as a compact photo printer, the only 4-by-6-inch photo paper that Canon sells for it is postcard paper. Therefore, the back of each photo you print will have lines to write on and a box to place a stamp. I found this frustrating because the CP740’s print quality is mostly pleasing, and I would want to print more than just postcards with it.
Design and interface
The CP740’s design is simple but not as intuitive as I would have liked. Loading the input tray could take some time to get used to if you’re accustomed to using ink-jet printers: instead of simply lining up paper in a vertical tray, you must place paper in a small, covered tray, open the tray’s lid at an angle, and shove the tray into the paper feeder. This process sounds complicated, though the CP740’s included instruction manual should walk you through it just fine; but the idea that you’d have to read the manual to figure out how to load the paper may rightly give some people pause.
You won’t find many print customization options on the CP740. There’s a date button giving you the option to print dates on your photos, a layout button that lets you choose between borderless or bordered printing, and a Mode button with which you can choose whether to print a single photo, multiple copies of a photo, or all of the photos on your memory card. The Mode button seems unnecessary: since there are + (Plus) and - (Minus) buttons on the printer that you use to increase or decrease the number of prints.
In addition to the aforementioned options, there’s a Display button that gives you a larger preview of your photo, a red-eye removal button, and, of course, the Power and Print buttons. Disappointingly, there are no options to print in black and white or crop your photos—features you’ll find on the majority of compact ink-jet photo printers. There are also no options to choose between different print qualities or papers.
Overall, the printer’s limited paper type, flat-looking dark images, and lack of advanced editing features may steer you toward the newer ink-jet compact models, which offer more flexible printing options.
The CP740’s cost per print is about the same as that of ink-jet compact photo printers. Canon sells an ink and postcard paper combination pack yielding 108 prints for $30; the price per print comes to 27 cents. By way of comparison, the Epson PictureMate Zoom’s photos cost 25 cents per print. Still, despite the CP740’s affordable cost per print, only having the option to print on postcards is a strange, irritating limitation.
The CP740 is compatible with most memory cards: CompactFlash, MicroDrive, Memory Stick, MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital cards, miniSD, and SDHC, among others. The CP740 also includes a built-in, retractable USB cable, which can be plugged in to PictBridge-compatible cameras, allowing you to print your photos from your camera.
There are upsides and downsides to the CP740’s dye-sub print quality. An upside is that dye-sub prints look a bit more real: since the printing process doesn’t leave ink dots, photos look more natural, with consistent tone and color. But the downside to sub-based printing is the lack of black ink. The CP740 uses a CMYO ink ribbon; that stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and overcoating, a laminate that protects the photo from discoloration. The CP740, like most dye-sub printers, mixes cyan, magenta, and yellow to simulate black. As a result, in my test prints, shadows were lacking in detail and dark prints looked slightly flat. After weighing the CP740’s pros and cons, I preferred the photos printed using the Epson PictureMate Zoom ( ), our Top Product in the compact photo printer category.
When you print a photo with the CP740, you’ll see the printer roll a sheet of photo paper in and out of a slot until each color is individually transferred and combined to produce the complete picture. This may sound like a lengthy process, but the CP740 turns in surprisingly fast print speeds comparable to the ink-jet compact photo printers we’ve tested. The CP740 took 1 minute and 15 seconds to print a single 4-by-6-inch photo; by way of comparison, the HP Photosmart A826 ink-jet compact photo printer took 1 minute and 29 seconds to complete the same task. However, the CP740 lags in comparison to the Epson PictureMate Zoom, which took 42 seconds to complete the same test.
|Color photo quality||Good|
|Black-and-white photo quality||N/A|
Scale = Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor
|Five 4-by-6-inch photos||5:18|
Scale = Minutes: Seconds
|Number of inks||Three (cyan, magenta, and yellow, plus overcoating)|
|Cost per 4-by-6-inch print||27 cents (ink and paper set costs $30 and yields 108 prints)|
|Memory cards||CompactFlash, Microdrive, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Duo Memory Stick Pro Memory Stick Pro Duo, MultiMediaCard, MMCmobile, MMCplus, Secure Digital card, miniSD, SDHC, miniSDHC, RS-MMC|
|Connections||USB, Direct Print Port|
|Printer resolution||300 x 300 dpi|
|Special features||Retractable USB cable for PictBridge-compatible cameras|
Macworld’s buying advice
The Selphy CP740 prints decent 4-by-6 inch photos, but overall its irksome limitations outweigh its benefits. Canon’s decision to continue giving consumers the option to choose between ink-jet and dye-sub printers is admirable. But the CP740’s imperfect dark prints, and its lack of paper type and image modification options, should compel you to follow the ink-jet compact photo printer route.
[ Brian Chen is an assistant editor at Macworld.]Canon Selphy CP740