The line-up of quality 4x6 desktop printers now includes a number of models
in the dye sublimation realm. These printers offer computer- or computer-less
printing with a host of input options. Smaller than your inkjet, they offer
convenience, fast printing, and, increasingly, fairly sophisticated processing
options. We recently had the opportunity to work with a new printer from Hi-Touch,
a company that's consistently scored high and earned top honors at the
annual photo trade show "shootouts," print competitions voted on
by photo industry show attendees.
HiTi S400, with handheld controller, cables, and software with
well printed instructions goes for $249 list.
The latest of their models is the HiTi S400. The new models are substantially
smaller than previous ones from the company and offer enhanced print speeds
(under 60 seconds for a 4x6) and what they dub a "Wizard Window"
controller, a handheld device for accessing menus and image options. It also
offers various types of connectivity, including with a PC via USB, direct card
printing, digital camera hookup, card reader hookup plus wireless connection
with camera phones enabled with Bluetooth Mobile via an optional Bluetooth dongle.
Along with the printer comes a new set of "whiter" papers, which
in dye sub is solely dedicated to the printer. Recognizing that dyes can be
attacked by environmental factors, the company has included a transparent resin
layer said to protect the photo after printing from UV rays, oxidation, and
other pollutants, all of which affect
Although the printer comes with a standard USB connection for making prints
from a computer, we felt that its chief advantage was in computer-less printing.
After a quick setup that involved placing the dye ribbons and paper in the printer,
we inserted a 1GB CompactFlash card, with images from the new Olympus EVOLT
E-500 digital SLR into the appropriate slot. The printer's LCD Wizard
Window is the heart of controlling image choices and editing options for computer-less
printing. You can print out an Index print of all the images on the card, or
use the Wizard's screen for select image printing. Scrolling through the
images on the screen was fast and easy, although for those with lots of images
on a card, making an Index print first is the best course.
strongly backlit scene on a snowy day was handled well by the
8-megapixel Olympus EVOLT E-500 metering system. The shot was
made with Fine/JPEG, which meant that when opened it yielded a
near 24MB file size. That size didn't slow down the HiTi
S400 at all, which kicked out a perfect print in under a minute.
All Photos © 2005, George Schaub, All Rights Reserved
The screen on the Wizard shows all the images in sequence, and to get to the
next set of images all you need do is work the scroll key, which highlights
the selected image with a red border. Then, hitting any key starts the printing
sequence. Prints took a bit less than a minute. There are four passes, three
color passes and the last being the protective coating.
Any question about quality was quickly settled, as the prints looked as good
as any we've seen from kiosks or home printing on 4x6. The controller
allows for editing functions as well, including brightness, sharpness, contrast,
and color shifting, if desired, but our shots straight from the camera printed
just fine without any need for enhancement. Media comes ready to go in 50, 100,
and 200 print packs for prints and special packs for creating photo stickers.
fill-flash shot proved no problem for the HiTi S400 image processor,
which delivered a print that has excellent tonal value and especially
good skin tones.
At $249 (list price) the HiTi S400 is guaranteed for 10,000 prints. As mentioned,
previous HiTi printers have been consistent winners at photo show output competitions
in their class.
Judging from what we got the first time out with this printer that winning streak
For more information, contact Hi-Touch Imaging Technologies, 285 S Dupont Ave.,
Ste. 104, Ontario, CA 91761;
(909) 974-0099; www.hitouchimaging.com