Canon Selphy ES2's Beginner's Guide manual comes in three languages: English, Spanish and French. While the French and Spanish are bundled in a single book, the English manual is its own book. The entire booklet is 31 pages and contains a lot less information than you'd expect; although a little over 32% of the booklet is dedicated to cautions and printer problems, there's little guidance given to what the printer can do or how to use the features. Three pages are dedicated to the printer's on-unit functions, but they aren't clear – they just mention graphically that the printer is capable of printing from a computer via USB or a mobile phone with Bluetooth; not a lot of information in three pages.
Out of the Box (5)
This section earned a lower score because the small printer doesn't come with many accessories. Although the box was neatly and tightly packaged, it contained only the printer, power cord, beginner's guides in English, French and Spanish, ink and paper tray with a small amount of starter paper already set in the tray. There is no USB cable; you have to supply your own.
Because there weren't a lot of parts in the box, there wasn't a lot to setup. After plugging in the printer, the only thing really left was to put in the paper and ink tray. Although the printer isn't difficult to set up, the small size and unique shape of the printer meant that we did need to consult the Beginner's Guide to work out how and where to insert the tray. The entire process took less than five minutes, though.
Drivers and Administration (5)
There isn't much magic to the driver for this ES2; of the three tabs in the driver window, two have actual preferences and editing tools. The first tab is print settings which lets you change the cartridge – whether you want the printer to use color ink or just black, the number of copies you want printed, and a selection box for whether you'd like to keep the prints borderless.
The second tab is image adjustments, which has three toggled options to adjust the amount of red, green and blue you want presenting in your photographs. It also has three more toggled options for the level of saturation, brightness and contrast you prefer.
The third utilities tab is an empty tab except for one tiny checkbox for whether you want notifications displayed or not.
The Canon ES2 isn't designed to do anything but produce photographs, so I only comes with basic photo editing software: Zoombrowser (ImageBrowser for Mac users) and Ulead PhotoExpress LE which is for Windows only.
The Ulead PhotoExpress LE is designed for basic editing and to make postcards with an array of different frame patterns and designs. Much of the image editing options are auto options; color enhancing, and brightness and contrast are only available as automatic options that can't be manually tweaked. So you can't choose to enhance the color to your liking, the software will chose how much to enhance the photograph itself. Ulead PhotoExpress also lets you make postcards, bordered artwork and add text to your photographs. PhotoExpress is definitely child-friendly, if not considerably geared toward children with is colorful and playful border designs.
ZoomBrowser is basically self-explanatory; this software allows you to view and make simple edits to your photographs. The problem with this software is editing can be a pain. Although it already provides very general editing options, it only allows you to make one edit at a time; you select your photograph, select edit and select which edit you'd like to make (trim, sharpen and so on). A new window opens with the photograph you want to edit with that one editing option you chose, that's it. So if you wanted to make several changes to that photograph, you'd have to re-open it and go through all over again, one edit at a time.
The Canon ES2 took approximately seven seconds to fully warm up. It was usually closer to five-and-half seconds when it wasn't connected to a PC, and close to seven seconds when it was. This is about a one-second increase in warm-up time than its previous Canon ES1, but a lot better compared to the Panasonic KX-PX20, which took around14 seconds to warm-up.
Power Usage (7.15)
The Canon ES2 stayed on par with other printers in its class in terms of power usage. The printer doesn't have an idle value, merely because it doesn't have an idle phase, it's either on or it shuts off. While off, it uses no power but when on and ready to print it soaks up about three kilowatt-hours. The ES2 did, however, take more power than many of the other printers in its printing power usage, even its predecessor, ES1.
Photo Speed/Timing (4.70)
The Canon ES2 did fairly well in its print speeds. The ES2 has a unusual way of printing in that it does a few pass throughs while it layers on the ink that lets you see the progress with each pass. It appears to be going very slow when you watch the process, but looks are deceiving; it's actually a fairly nippy printer.
The ES2 did improve its print speed, especially since the ES1. It also was able to beat out the Panasonic KX-PX20 but lost to the PictureMate PictureMate 240, which printed at rate of .16 ppm faster than the ES2. Even with this said, the ES2 performed on par for its class and seeing a speed improvement from the ES1 is definitely welcome.
Color Accuracy (1.47)
We test a printer's color accuracy by printing the below chart on both the manufacturer's paper and Ilford paper. We also take it a step further by printing the same chart using a custom ICC profile created with a professional printer calibration system. However because the Canon ES2 does not accept any other paper besides Canon ES2 preassembled paper, we could not test using the Ilford paper. We also couldn't create the custom profile because the ES2 driver couldn't print the chart the calibration system uses correctly to the paper size. While many other printer drivers have an option to fit the object to a paper size, the ES2 did not. Thus, we ended up only being able to test the color accuracy using the default profile and Canon paper, and the result was not very good.
The mean color error for the Canon ES2 using the default color profile was 9.9, which is a very poor score. The ES2 was had particualr problems outputting blues, blacks and reds. Its biggest errors came in blue sky (box 3), bluish green (box 6), green (box 14) and yellow (box 16). It also had moderate errors in red (box 15) and magenta (box 17).
This very poor performance, more so because it did worse than the Canon ES1, which earned an error score of 8.60. The Epson PictureMate 240 earned an error score of 5.03. The ES2 was only able to beat a very poor performer in color accuracy, the Panasonic KX-PX20, which had a bigger mean color error of 10.01.
Color Gamut (3.45)
All printers have a range of colors that they can produce, and it's this spectrum of colors that partially determines the resulting quality of the prints. To test the range of colors a printer can produce, we use a software program called Gamutvision developed by Norman Koren. The chart below shows the color range results of the Canon ES2; the grid represents the entire color gamut range, and the solid block represents how much of this the ES2 could reproduce.
The Canon ES2 performed at a pretty mediocre level with it came our color gamut test. It was able to reproduce 43.6% of the color space. Most of the printers we review can do significantly more; the Epson PictureMate Snap PM240 managed 48.65%. Still, it is an improvement on the ES1, which was able to reproduce a mediocre 38% of the color space.
The DMax test measures the density of the black tones that the printer creates. The deeper the black, the wider the tonal range that the printer can reproduce. The ideal standard value for a very rich, deep black is 2.50. Many high-end photo printers can usually attain a Dmax value around 2.30.
The Canon ES2 was able to make its best DMax 2.17. Normally we also test on both the manufacturer's paper and Ilford paper using both the default profile and a custom profile that we make using a Gretag Macbeth software called Eye-One Match. But since this printer cannot take in any paper other than Canon's own, we could not use the Ilford paper. And also because the ES2 printer driver does not have an option to fit the print object onto a media size, we could not fit or print the needed chart.
With that said, the ES2 did slightly better than the Canon ES1, which had a score of 2.0, the HP PhotoSmart A440, which had a score of 1.72 and the Panasonic KX-PX20, which had a score of 1.56. It did, however, take second to the Epson PictureMate 240, which earned a very good 2.43.
Black and White (6)
The black and white on this printer was good, not great, but good. The ES2 has a black and white cartridge and paper packet that you can purchase specifically for black and white prints. We tried printing black and white photographs using both the color cartridge and the black and white cartridge. The color cartridge produced color tinted black and white pictures, with a hint of gray-green. The detailing the color cartridge produced was not good: the photograph was dark and gloomy and lacked shadow detail.
The black and white cartridge did a much better job of producing black and white photographs, which had more light and subtle grey tones, which looked much more attractive. There was good detail in the dark portions of the photograph and it was able to capture more detail even in the darker areas.
The front of the ES2 is pretty clean with a sparkle of the Canon logo, Selphy placed in the middle and Selphy ES2 placed delicately at the bottom. At the very bottom of the front is a tiny handle that opens up to expose the three media slots. In order from left to right are: CF card slot, SD Card (which can also handle miniSD and MMC cards), and the last being the Memorystick and Memorystick Duo slot. To the left of the card slots is a small light that lights up green when a card is correctly inserted.
The top of the printer holds the control panel, the 2.5" display screen and the output tray. The screen sits directly in the middle while a combination of buttons are fitted to both sides of the screen. The right side holds more of the action buttons like the spin dial, arrow keys and print buttons. The left side holds more editing buttons like the creative button, edit and display button. The handle also rests flat on the top of the printer.
The bottom left side of the printer contains two USB ports behind a small door; one for connecting to a computer and one for connecting directly to a digital camera with PictBridge support.
The right side of the printer houses the paper tray and ink cartridge. There's a push-up button on the front of the printer that opens the cartridge door. On the inside there's a tiny brown lever that you can push down to release the paper tray and cartridge from the printer.
The back of the ES2 holds a spot for the optional battery. You can open the door to the battery by pulling on a tiny half cup indented on to the top of the door and release the battery using the push-up button on the right of the door. Below the battery door is the power port.
The Canon ES2 has a 2.5 inch adjustable screen. Although the screen isn't as agile as we'd like, it lifts up off the printer far enough to make the screen viewable. The screen itself is clear and somewhat sharp. It displays photographs very well, not exactly matching what might be on your PC, but providing a decent representation of the color and vividness of the original photograph. Font and colorings of the menu on the display are done well, making them more neutral colors of gray and green with thin, almost dark gray font.
Paper Trays (1.5)
Because the cartridge and paper tray are one unit and the paper already comes pre-assembled into the tray, the ES2 received a low score. The printer also does not take in any other paper. It's designed to run out of paper and ink at the same time, and Canon sells them as a combined pack.
CD Burner (0)
There is no CD burner in this printer.
A battery is available for purchase, but is not included. The NB-ES1L battery costs $100.
Internal Memory (0)
Canon does not specify how much memory there is inside the ES2, but whatever is in there, it is not accessible to the user.
The Canon ES2 absolutely cannot multitask. In fact while a memory card is in the printer, you cannot even print via your PC.
Hard Drive (0)
There is no hard drive in the ES2.
The Canon ES2 has a battery, Bluetooth adapter and two sizes of ink and paper packages available for purchase. The Canon ES2 is designed to only take its own ink and paper, so the ink cartridge and paper tray are one unit and it comes with paper preassembled. So you're options are to purchase and ink and paper in packets of 50 sheets or 100 sheets. Unfortunately, there is not yet a carry case available for this particular printer through Canon.
Controls and Buttons (6)
For being such a small printer, the Canon ES2 has a good amount of controls and buttons on the unit. There's even a spin dial so you can scroll through options easily, but it also gives you the option to use the arrow buttons. Most of the buttons mesh in with the color of the printer, while a few more important buttons are colored like the print, back and power on button. Like the printer the buttons are fairly small but rightly sized and spaced for the printer, and there's a good balance between putting functions on buttns for quick access and not overwhelming the user with too many buttons.
The main menu screen of the printer contains only Print Settings and Printer Setup. Through the print settings options you can perform your mundane tasks like changing the date, turning the red-eye option on or off, choose to default printing as border or borderless and a few other editing on/off options.
The printer setup option allows you to turn on or off the auto rotate function, automatic power down option, the language and the transition between photographs as fade, wipe or off. Most of the other options, such as the control panel button options of edit and creative and other menu options are activated when a media card is inserted. The following table represents all of the menu options when a media card is inserted.
Size and Portability (6.87)
The Canon ES2 is definitely an easily portable printer. With a self-retracting handle, you can easily pull it up and be on the go. With dimensions of 8.4inW x 5.2in D x 7.5in H and weight of 4.31lbs, the ES2 can fit in a carry along bag. With the media slots being covered by a door, you don't have to worry about any dirt or debris harming the ports as well.
The ES2 is a dye-sublimation printer, meaning there is no actual ink cartridge. Ink runs off of a thin sheet onto the photo paper. So there are no individual ink replacements necessary with this printer, but ink is set to only last as long as the paper does, in increments of either 50 or 100 sheets, depending on which packet your purchase.
The value on the ink and paper for this printer is so-so. With the 50-sheet option, the price comes out to be approximately 30 cents per sheet and with the 100-sheet option, the price per sheet comes out to be 28 cents. This is unchanged from the Canon ES1, and is a bit pricer than the Epson PictureMate 240, which is had a cost of at 25 cents per print.
Ink Management (1)
There are no ink management tools with this printer. You're ink management is your 50 or 100-sheets. When your sheets run out, so has the ink.
Print Quality (0)
Print quality is set at 300 x 300 dpi, but 300 x 600 dpi is available only through Canon Direct Print from a memory card and through the one image per page and two images per page in multi-layout from the on-unit menu selection.
Internal Editing (6)
The ES2 gives you a number of auto options to choose from. You can adjust the image, auto optimize the photograph, correct the red-eye and reconfigure the page layout. There are also some coloring options under My Colors, like sepia, black and white, vivid blue and neutral. However, you can't tweak the effect here, and you can't crop photos.
Dedicated Black and White (4)
There are a few options to make your photographs black and white and few colorized versions of black and white, like sepia through the My Colors options. Outside of that, any black and white tweaking must be done through your PC.
Media Types (1)
This printer only accepts three types of paper in two different sizes: credit card (2.13" x 3.39"), credit card label sheet (2.13" x 3.39") and post card (4" x 6"). It also only accepts preassembled paper and ink from Canon designed for the ES2, so if you want to change the paper type, you have to remove the entire paper and ink cartridge.
Formats and Compatibility (7)
The Canon ES2 is Pictbridge compatible, so you can directly connect it to a Pictbridge camera and print from there with no PC.
Media Slots (8)
The Canon ES2 is equipped with two USB slots on its left side and three memory card slots in the front that are compatible with SD, SDHC, MMC, miniSD, HC MMC plus, MMC mobile and CF card. Sony's own Memorystick and smaller Memorystick Duo cards are also supported.
Bluetooth is an optional feature when you purchase the adapter ($49.99) and it is also IrDA compatible for use with cell phones or PDAs that have IrDA ports.
There is no networking for the Canon ES2.
Ease of Use (7)
The Canon ES2 printer itself isn't particularly user-friendly. Many of the on-unit buttons don't respond until a media card is inserted and using the creative option to add patterns and borders was a somewhat clumsy process. The software was also not particularly user-friendly as well, and both the printer and software took some time getting used to because of its navigation style. For example, in the Zoombrowser, where you can execute one edit at a time, or not being able to execute a print request from a PC when a media card is inserted into the printer.
On the contrary, replacing the ink and paper tray was very easy. Because the ink and paper tray are one unit, there's almost no messing up or messy work in replacing them. Perhaps a more expensive method, it's definitely an easier one.
Because the ink and paper are combined and you can only use Canon's own ink and paper set for this printer, it is not the greatest bargain. And also because you can only purchase ink and paper sets in 50 or 100-sheet selections, it can get expensive if you want to stock up on the different paper types. The price of $199.99 is a better price than what the ES1 was released for ($249.99 was it's original release price), and it's also competitive with other printers in its class. The ES2 doesn't come with some of the amenities that other portable printers come with, like a carrying case, so that's a minus as well.
The ES2 is comparatively priced with some of its competitors: Panasonic KX-PX20 at $199.99 and Canon ES1 also at $199.99. While all three printers are dye-sublimation printers, the Canon ES2's ink is slightly less expensive per page than the Panasonic KX-PX20. The Panasonic ranges at 46 cents per print and the ES2 prints at an average of 29 cents per print. The ES2 looses out in comparing the screen, since the Panasonic carries a 3.6" screen and the ES2 only has a 2.5" screen. The Panasonic is also smaller and about half the weight of the ES2. With all that said, the ES2 beat out all three with its performance in print speed and quality of prints. So for the same price as the ES1 and the Panasonic KX-PX20, the ES2 may lose out in some aesthetic categories, but comes running ahead in its performance and quality.
The Canon ES2 currently sells for $199.99. In short, it is a well-performing printer that beat out a good number of printers in its class. It's not perfect in all aspects, though; other printers have advantages in screen size, accessories and ink and paper options, but it did make up a lot in its performance and quality of prints. Having the option of color and black and white cartridges was also a plus. The software and on-unit editing was good but left little room for manual adjustments. And while the print quality has improved a bit over the ES1, it's still only best described as adequate. And although the price is going in the right direction ($199.99, down from the $249.99 of the ES1), it still doesn't represent good value for money.
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