The CP800 is a dye sublimation printer, which means it does not use conventional ink cartridges. Instead, the dye is contained on a series of thin plastic sheets, which are heated to transfer the dye onto the paper. The cartridge that holds these sheets in a continual roll fits into the right side of the printer.
In the Box
As well as the printer itself, you get:
- Power supply and cable
- Software CD
- Printer User Guide (in English, Spanish and French)
- 2 Paper cassettes (postcard size and card size)
Not included is any paper, ink or a USB cable to connect the printer to a computer.
Setup & Manuals
The CP800 comes with a printed user guide in English, Spanish and French, which covers the basic functions of the printer and software in adequate detail. It doesn't go into a lot of detail, but it is enough for a novice user to understand the basic features of this printer.
As the CP800 is a compact photo printer, it is no surprise that the drivers for this printer are very simple and straightforward, with the only options being the ability to tweak colors. There are no controls for print quality or size: the size is determined by the size of paper in the printer, and there is only one quality setting.
The included software CD offers software for both Windows and Mac users. Both get the same software: the rather basic Selphy Photo Print package and the drivers described above.
Photo Print Speed
We measured the printing speed of this printer for producing a 4 by 6 print at an average of 58 seconds, a little longer than Canon's claim of 45 seconds (we test by printing a large group of photos and averaging the speed for each print). That is still pretty nippy, though, and means that you wont be waiting long for prints to be produced. For more on how we test print speeds, see this page.
Document Print Speed
The CP800 cannot print documents onto plain paper, so we did not test its document print speed.
Color Performance Summary
- Acceptable, but not outstanding color accuracy
- Issues with printing greens and blues
In our tests on the color accuracy of the prints produced by the CP800, we found that the printer struggled, producing color that was significantly different from the original in our test chart. In particular, the CP800 seemed to struggle with the greens and blues in our chart, both of which were a lot darker than the originals. It could be that the printer is doing some processing to try and make some colors look more vivid, but there is no way to control this: our tests are run using the drivers supplied with the printer, which only provide basic color controls. We don't calibrate printers of this type. For more details on how our color accuracy tests are done, see here.
The chart below shows the results: the number in each of the color patches is the CIDE 2000 color difference. The bigger this number, the larger the difference between the original and the printed color is to the eye.
NOTE: Because of the way computer monitors reproduce colors, the images above may not match the results used for evaluating color accuracy. The chart should be used to judge the relative color shift, not the exact printed colors.
The3 color gamut is the range of colors that a printer can reproduce, and we determine what percentage of the Adobe RGB color gamut a printer can manage in our tests. The bigger this percentage, the wider the range of colors that a printer can manage and the better the prints will look. We found that the CP800 could manage about 45 per cent of the Adobe RGB gamut, which is a pretty average figure for printers of this type. It is a little smaller than some general purpose printers (such as the Canon iP2702), but it is a little wider than the Sony DPP-F700 and the Epson PM300. For more details on how we measure color gamut, see here.
Detail Performance Summary
- Produces, solid, deep blacks
- Details are well rendered, but some prints are rather too heavy on the black
Depth of Blacks
Although he CP800 struggled with a few colors, it had no problems producing a strong, deep black in our test prints. We measured the dMax (the density of the blacks) at 2.55, which is an excellent result, and is deeper than other printers. What this means is that prints produced on this printer will have deeper blacks and a wider contrast range between the blacks and whites, giving them more visual impact. For more details on how we test the depth of blacks in prints, see here.
We test the detail performance of printers by printing out a variety of test images designed to highlight the good and bad things about a printer. First up is a series of color gradients that show how the printer handles subtle changes of color.
The CP800 did well here, producing gradients of the 4 primary colors that look clean and smooth. The only minor issue is some slight shading on the black, where it seems to be using the other colors to make the black deeper, which produces a slight red tint about three quarters of the way up. But this is a minor issue that is unlikely to be visible in most photos.
Sample Scan Comparisons
Next up is a series of edges. The CP800 again did well here, although the results are a little soft. The Alice etching, for instance, looks a little less sharp than the other printers, although the highly magnified edge is pretty clear. The two faces at the bottom are also a little soft, but have a decent level of detail.
Overall, the CP800 did well here, but the results are not outstanding, with fine details getting a little lost in the slight softness that the printer adds to images. However, this is not likely to be an issue for most photos, and the image look good, with a very acceptable level of detail.
The CP800 is a dye sublimation printer that uses a roll of dye impregnated sheets, which comes in a cartridge that holds enough dye to print 36 sheets. The postcard (4 by 6 inch) size is sold in packs with the same amount of paper, costing about $15.30 for the postcard (4 by 6 inches) size, which works out at a cost of about 42.5 cents a print. The card size (2.13 by 3.39 inches) is sold in packs of 18 sheets for about $14 (about 78 cents a print). Canon also offers mini-label packs, which have 8 mini labels per sheet of paper, and 18 sheets in a pack.
When printing from a computer or directly from a memory card, there is no way to tell how many prints are left before you have to change the ink cartridge and add more paper. But, because the CP800 uses dye sheets, you are never going to run out mid-print, so this is less of an issue than it would be for a conventional printer. However, it would still be nice to have some way of knowing how many more prints you could produce before changing the cartridge.
The CP800 only works with Canon's own paper, which is available in three sizes and types: postcard (4 by 6 with two tear-off ends for handling), card (2.13 by 3.39 inches) and labels, with 8 mini labels on a 4 by 6 sheet. The postcard and card sizes are only available in a glossy finish; there is no matte or other paper option.
This printer cannot work with other paper types or sizes: it does not support letter, A4 or any other size or type of paper.
Paper is stored in the removable tray on the front of the printer, which can hold up to 18 sheets. The card and postcard sized paper require different paper trays, but on our review model, only one paper tray was included: the tray for Postcard prints.
The CP800 has a number of controls on the printer body which are used when printing from a memory card. From the3 left are buttons for power, menu, a directional and select buttons, a back button and a print button. The menu button accesses the on-screen menu of the device, which is navigated with the directional and select buttons.
On the top of the CP800 body is a 2.5-inch LCD screen that tilts up to about 30 degrees. This screen looks rather small compared to the body of the printer, and the screen is not particularly high in resolution, so images look a little grainy.
When you insert a memory card, the CP800 scans the card for a few seconds, and then shows the images it finds on the card, allowing you to scroll through the list and select the ones for printing. You can also press the menu button to access the on-screen menu, which allows you to select all images for printing or apply a number of image editing tools, such as auto image enhancement. correct red-eye, smooth skin or applying a color mode. The color modes allow you to apply modes such as vivid, neutral, positive film, sepia and black & white to the photos. These can only be applied to all of the images marked for printing, not individual images. There are also options here for creating print layouts of multiple images on one page, adding borders to the print or adding a date stamp to the photos.
The menu system is mostly easy to use, but the text is a little difficult to read on the small, grainy screen, especially from a distance.
Three memory card slots are located on the front of the printer body, just above the slot for the paper tray. These three slots allow the printer to read SD/SDHC/SDXC, all of the variants of MemoryStick, xD Picture Cards and CompactFlash memory cards, which should cover pretty much anything out there . In addition, a second USB port on the side of the printer body allows for a PictBridge connection, where a digital camera or other PictBridge device can control the printer directly over a USB connection.
Wireless & Network
No direct support for wireless is offered on the CP800, but Canon does offer a $50 Bluetooth adapter (the BU-30) that allows Bluetooth devices such as cell phones to print directly to this printer. There is no WiFi option for this printer, though.
Both printers had strong performance in producing prints with deep, dark blacks, but the Canon had a slight edge in color accuracy: we found the prints from the CP800 had slightly better overall color accuracy. Both printers struggled here, though, with the Canon having issues with greens and blues and the Sony having issues with blues.
Inks & Media
Both printers are restrictive in terms of the inks and papers that they use, only working with the special ink cartridges and paper manufactured for that printer. Both are dye sublimation printers, so instead of liquid ink they use special plastic sheets impregnated with dye, which is heated so it transfers from the plastic to the paper. These sheets come in the form of a roll in a special cartridge, and these are sold in packs with the special paper. For the Canon, this means that each print costs about 42.5 cents, while the Sony costs about 30 cents.
The Sony has one major advantage over the Canon; it has a much bigger, brighter and sharper screen, because it is designed to work as a combination printer and photo frame. Both printers are fairly easy to use, but the dedicated buttons of the Canon are easier to use than the touch-screen controls of the Sony. The Canon also has the price advantage of costing less than half of the Sony: $80 rather than $199. However, the prints from the Canon are slightly more expensive, so that might make up the difference if you print a lot.
Both printers had reasonable performance in our tests on color accuracy, but the Epson had a slight edge, with a lower overall color error. The differences were minor, though, and both printers struggled with some colors. For the Canon, the struggle was with the greens and blues on our test chart, but the Epson struggled with the blues and the oranges. Both printers produced deep blacks, though, which means that prints from both will have a wide contrast range, giving prints plenty of impact.
Inks & Media#####
Both printers are also restricted to using the manufacturers own paper only, with both having special packs of ink and paper offered by the company as accessories. They can also only produce 4 by 6 prints: neither can manage anything bigger. While the Canon uses a dye sublimation printing system (where dye on a plastic sheet is vaporized and deposited onto the paper), the Epson is a more conventional ink jet, with liquid ink in the ink cartridge that fits into the bottom of the case. This contains 4 ink colors: black, cyan, magenta and yellow.
We found both printers to be easy to use, but the Epson has the advantage of a larger and better screen.
The cost per print for the Epson was a very impressive 25 cents a print, a lot less than the 42.5 cents of the Canon. That is partly because Epson sells the ink and paper in large quantities: packs of 150 sheets of paper and enough ink to print on them all.
The iP2702 was the winner in most of our performance tests, producing more accurate color when calibrated and doing a better job of rendering fine detail in prints. However, it is only fair to point out that we were not able to calibrate the CP800 (our calibration software down not support 4 by 6 prints), and that the CP800 did take first place in print density: the prints it produced had much deeper, darker blacks than the iP2702.
nks & Media
The CP800 can only print 4 by 6 and credit card sized prints on Canon's own paper, while the iP2702 can handle prints up to letter size and can print on a variety of types of paper, including plain paper and glossy paper from other manufacturers.
These two printers take quite different approaches to printing. The CP800 is a standalone printer that can also work with a computer, but the iP2702 can only work with a computer. The CP800 can print images directly from a memory card, but the iP2702 relies on the attached computer to do all the hard work of loading and outputting the images.
Meet the tester
Tom Warhol is a valued contributor to the Reviewed.com family of sites.
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