If you ever have the need
to make snapshot-sized prints on the road, or want a tough but practical
printer that speeds through the printing process with image enhancements
to boot, you might want to consider the Hi-Touch Imaging Technologies
"Transphotable" printer. That somewhat odd name gives you
a hint of how this dye sub printer is configured. It's actually
a HiTi 630PS printer (reviewed in these pages a few months back in our
February 2003 issue and available by going to the Shutterbug website
and typing HiTi 630PS into the Search box) with body armor and circuitry
that allows you to get power from the cigarette lighter socket in your
car. Being a dye sub printer it works with four passes--three for
the color and one for the UV coating--but even with that it's
much faster than going the ink jet through the computer route.
You have a choice of a number of different print formats, all on the
4x7" paper, including standard 4x6 glossy prints, photo stickers
in two configurations, ID photo size as well as index prints of all
the images on the inserted memory card. Loading the ribbon and paper
couldn't be easier, and if you want extra protection on the road
there's even an included dust filter that can be placed into the
8.8 lb unit.
Transphotable delivers sharp, color rich borderless images
in about a minute in a four-pass setup. We darkened the
picture of the statue prior to printing using the handheld
controller's edit function. The color range of the
flags gives a good indication of the good color the unit
delivers the first time through when camera exposure is
on the money.
Photos © 2003, George Schaub, All Rights Reserved
The real treat in this setup
is the direct printing capability, even though you can use the Transphotable
as a computer connected printer as well. There are two slots for CompactFlash
and SmartMedia cards and to use a SecureDigital card you have to use an
optional CompactFlash adapter. You can only print from JPEG images, as
the unit will not handle TIFF or raw files. We used our 4-megapixel Canon
PowerShot G4 with JPEGs and were able to get prints and index cards to
print with ease.
The Handheld Controller
Included with the printer is a handheld unit that allows you to choose
from among the printing options and even add enhancement to images, including
a very good lighten and darken control and rotation, re-sizing, contrast,
and color biasing. Moving through the menus and making edits is intuitive,
although judging sharpness from the LCD screen on the handheld previewer
is not advisable. But when we printed an image and then decided we wanted
it darker all we had to do was hit the edit button, choose brightness
from the scroll-down menu and toggle our way to a darker, richer print.
All the prints were right the first time out and we found it to be an
excellent way to get sharp and color rich prints right from the memory
card. We also found the index print right on the money. The unit will
also accept DPOF orders made in the camera.
Being a transportable printer you might expect it to be able to take some
knocks, which it does. The body armor is solid rubber, which is wrapped
around the handheld controller and LCD viewer as well as the main printing
unit. There's also what the company calls a "Fuzzy Ambient
Temperature Detection and Quality Control" feature, which in a nutshell
means that the unit will automatically adjust for temperature and humidity
conditions and set up the printer for the best prints under those conditions.
The stated temperature range for operation is 41-100ÞF.
The index print from our Canon PowerShot G4 kicked out
in under a minute. The unit can handle CompactFlash, SmartMedia,
and, with an optional adapter, SecureDigital cards. The
prints can be made from JPEG images only. Colors were
right on and we used the index print as a good guide to
color and exposure.
In all, the HiTi Transphotable,
at about $399 including handheld viewer, is a versatile and quality setup
for those who want to make 4x6 and index prints on the road. It's
a PC-only setup. Included in the package is the controller, car power
kit, USB cable and CD (needed if you use the printer connected to your
PC), a sample paper and ribbon kit (sold separately in 50 sheet packs
of ribbon and paper), and a nice carry bag for the printer and accessories.
For more information contact Hi-Touch Imaging Technologies at www.hitouchimaging.com.