Photo printers for the holidays

Here are a few suggestions for anyone who is shopping for a photo printer. We have printers we recommend, as well as devices that have generated buzz that you'll want to investigate.

Do-it-yourself lab-quality photos

With the advances in digital photography, it's a lot easier to take great-looking photos. The same can be said about photo printers—they're more affordable than ever, producing photos that rival the prints made by a photo lab. There are several different photo printers on the market, ranging from snapshot printers that cost $150 to $250, to high-end inkjets that are designed to meet the demands of graphics professionals. Here are a few suggestions for anyone who is shopping for a photo printer. We have printers we recommend, as well as devices that have generated buzz that you'll want to investigate.

Epson PictureMate Charm PM 225

Epson's aptly named PictureMate Charm PM225 (3.5 mice) snapshot printer is not as versatile as other snapshot printers, but it offers better print quality at a lower cost for the consumables. It produced flesh tones that looked healthy and normal, it handled both fast-motion and landscape shots with aplomb, and it balanced lights and darks evenly in monochrome images. Epson's Print Packs produces up to 150 photos using the included ink cartridge and paper. At $38 a pack, that's a cool 25 cents per photo, better than all other brands of snapshot printer we've tested. Read our full review. [$150 (Compare latest prices); Epson]

Canon Selphy CP790

At first glance, Canon’s Selphy CP790 snapshot printer looks more like a lime-green lunch pail. The 3.2-pound printer acts as the top-heavy lid of an oval bucket. The bucket is divided into two compartments for storing the AC adapter, paper caddies, and supplies. You can print directly to the CP790 from one of three media card readers, from a PictBridge-connected device, through the infrared port, or on a Mac connected via USB. The Selphy is a dye-sublimation printer, and a 108-sheet replacement kit costs $35, or a respectable 32 cents per print. Read the full review. [$180 (Compare latest prices); Canon]

Mimo Monitors iMo Foto Frame Printer

Why settle for a mere digital picture frame when you could have a printer, too? The 8-inch iMo Foto Frame Printer also prints 4-by-6-inch prints at 300 dpi directly from CF, SD, MMC, and xD memory cards (you need an adapter for MemoryStick and SDHC Cards). Consumables cost $20 (36 prints). Read more about the iMo Foto Frame Printer. [$230; Mimo Monitors]

Canon Pixma iP3600

Looking for a photo printer that’s a little more versatile than a snapshot printer? The Pixma iP3600 is a five-color (four dye-based inks and a pigment-based black) inkjet printer that can handle paper as small as a 4-by-6 and as large as legal-sized paper. It doesn’t have memory card slots, but it can print from cameras that have PictBridge, and it connects to your Mac via USB. Canon rates the printer speed at 26 pages per minute for black-only, and 17 ppm for color. [$80 (Get best current price); Canon]

Fujifilm Instax mini 7

OK, so the Instax mini 7 isn’t a printer. However, it is a camera that prints credit card-size color photos, great for anyone who needs a print right there on the spot. The Instax mini 7 isn’t a digital camera, so there’s no digital file saved to memory, only the printed photo. Watch a video about the Instax mini 7. [$85; Fujifilm]

HP Photosmart C6380

The Photosmart C6380 is an all-in-one that’s worth a closer look for the photo enthusiast with a home office. The C6380 prints documents up to 8.5 by 11 inches from the 125-sheet paper tray, and includes a dedicated 20-sheet photo tray for 4-by-6 and 5-by-7 prints. It has a 4,000 dpi, 48-bit color flatbed scanner that serves double duty as a copier, a 2.4-inch color LCD to preview images and operate menus, a memory card reader (SD, CF, xD, and MS), and a front USB port that accepts flash drives so you can scan and write directly to removable media. Read the full review. [$200 (Get best current price); HP]

Epson Stylus Pro 3880

Designed for graphics professionals, the large-format Stylus Pro 3880 photo inkjet printer uses a technology called AccuPhoto HD2, developed by Epson and the RIT Munsell Color Science Laboratory. According to Epson, AccuPhoto HD2 helps produce smoother-looking images and more-consistent colors. The 3880 uses Epson’s UltraChrome K3 Vivid Magenta pigment ink set, which uses new magenta and light magenta inks. The printer uses eight individual ink cartridges, including three different black ink cartridges (Photo or Matte Black, Light Black, and Light Light Black). The printer supports cut-sheet media as large as 17 by 22 inches, as well as different artistic media, such as Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster, Premium Photo Paper Glossy, Exhibition Fiber Paper, Enhanced Matte Paper, Velvet Fine Art Paper, Premium Canvas Matte, and more. Read more about the Stylus Pro 3880. [$1295 (Get best current price); Epson]

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