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Canon Selphy CP770 snapshot printer

Canon's bucket-shaped Selphy CP770 looks like something you'd fill with sand--but don't! This self-contained snapshot printer is cute and easy to tote, which makes up somewhat for other shortcomings.

The "lid" of the bucket is the printer, which you lift out to use. The bucket's partitioned sections hold accessories. If you really want to use it on the go, you'll need the optional battery pack (US$80); a Bluetooth adapter costs $50.

The Selphy CP770's dye-sublimation technology also appears in the Canon Selphy ES3 and in the Sony Picture Station Digital Photo Printer DPP-FP95. Though it works fine, it's a bit complicated and seems wasteful.

The ink cartridge contains a roll of film infused with successive sections of cyan, magenta, and yellow, plus a fourth layer consisting of a clear, protective coating. You use one layer of each color per print, regardless of how much color the image actually users. Canon has no recycling program yet for these cartridges.

The paper works disconcertingly, too. Dedicated cassettes take a single size of paper each; in order to plug a cassette into the printer's front you must adjust a confusing double-layer lid. The paper moves through the printer four times, extending several inches out the back and the front during each pass and thus seeming to invite premature grabbing of the print. Postcard- and business-card-size cassettes are included. A greeting-card kit--containing 4-by-8-inch paper and envelopes (24 of each), ink, and a cassette--costs $33.

Considering all of the passes involved, it's not surprising that the Selphy CP770 is one of the slowest snapshot printers we've tested. It took well over a minute to print each sample. A yellowish palette adversely affected some images, especially landscapes.

Working without a PC, you can print directly from a media card or from a PictBridge-connected device, or you can beam an image to the infrared port. The simply designed control panel and 2.5-inch color LCD simplified navigation among a basic set of editing and enhancement features. With the printer connected to a PC, you can install Corel's Ulead Photo Express LE (for adding fancier effects to an image) or ZoomBrowser EX (for managing and printing larger collections of photos).

The printer ships with trial-size ink and postcard-paper supplies that last 5 pages each. A kit containing postcard paper and an ink cartridge for 108 prints costs $30, which works out to 29 cents per print. The 36-print kit is relatively expensive at $12, or 33 cents per print.

The chief reason to buy the Selphy CP770 is for the fun factor. Though the dye-sublimation technology produces a decent print, it's too slow and plastic-intensive for me to recommend over other kinds of printing.