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-- by Joel T. Patz
Printing photos from your PC can be a fun and useful application, but once the novelty wears off, it's the output quality that counts.
Sony's new DPP-M55 Digital Color Photo Printer is a miniature dye sublimation printer that produces photo-realistic snapshot-sized images-but its low 144-dot-per-inch resolution won't put photo processors out of business.
The DPP-M55 prints images up to 4.4 by 3.3 inches on VP (video printer) standard paper (5.5 by 3.9 inches; 50 sheets and an ink-ribbon cartridge come in a kit for $49.95). Sony bundles its Digital Color Printer Utility software for importing (BMP and JPEG only) and manipulating images. While you can alter, rotate and adjust the image's colors, there's no Preview mode to allow you to see how your photo will print out.
In testing, the first three printed images needed major color adjustment, but color quality improved as the printer warmed up. Though Sony says the DPP-M55 can print a page in 1 minute, 10 seconds, our test BMP image took nearly 2 minutes, 30 seconds.
The printer attaches to your computer's serial port with the supplied cable. If you have Sony's DSC-F1 digital still camera, you can print directly to the DPP-M55 via the unit's infrared port.
The compact DPP-M55 measures 2.6 by 10.9 by 9.6 inches and weighs 5.5 pounds. Paper inserts (singly) and returns at the front; Sony also offers an optional 25-sheet paper feeder.
The photo printer on our WinList, the Epson Stylus Photo (see WinLab Reviews, August), produces output with greater resolution (up to 720x720dpi.) But if you're looking for a more compact unit for manipulating and printing images with special effects, the DPP-M55's postcard-sized output does a satisfactory job.