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Picture Station Digital Photo Printer DPP-FP95

Sony's Picture Station Digital Photo Printer DPP-FP95 is a snapshot photo printer with better features than results. Considering its high price, you shouldn't have to accept so many compromises.

The printer is compact and comes with a built-in carrying handle. The included CD contains a basic printer driver, but the DPP-FP95 is designed to be used on its own. Insert a media card (or a PictBridge-connected device), and you can start using the large, 3.6-inch LCD and the small array of buttons on the top panel to work with photos. The button labels are mostly clear, and the display does a great job of showing useful information and providing cues for further action.

The DPP-FP95 offers an impressive array of printing options. You can select clip art, borders, or superimposed messages; or turn multiple photos into a scrapbook-like page. My favorite option was "Painting," which redraws a chosen photo in brushstrokes; you can even choose from three different stroke lengths.

In our tests using unenhanced photos, we were impressed with the DPP-FP95's speed. Our 4-by-6-inch photos came out in 42 to 44 seconds--among the fastest times we've seen among currently available models. Unfortunately print quality was a different story. Flesh tones looked too ruddy or too pale, and other kinds of images looked too dark.

Watching the paper print can be even more distressing than seeing the result. A long paper cassette attaches to the front of the machine. As the paper prints, it extends alternately out the front and out the back of the machine, inviting an untimely knock or pull.

The dye-sublimation technology that the DPP-FP95 uses generates a lot of waste, too. As with Canon's two recent dye-sublimation snapshot printers--the Selphy ES3 and the Selphy CP770--the printer's inking setup consists of a long roll of plastic film, infused with successive sections of cyan, magenta, and yellow ink, plus a fourth layer of protective coating. Each print uses four entire sections regardless of the amount of each color actually needed.

Sony fails to include even the most meager of starter supplies. A package of ink and paper for 120 prints costs US$35, which works out to 29 cents per print. A smaller package for 40 prints costs $20, or an exorbitant 50 cents per print.

The Picture Station Digital Photo Printer DPP-FP95 excels at features and speed; but it falls short on print quality, and its consumables are expensive and wasteful. In the end, it's overpriced for what you get.