The HiTi 630PS - A Digital Mini-Lab for You
Hi-Touch Imaging Technologies (HiTi) has developed a new line of affordable and high-quality photo printers for today's digital camera users. The HiTi 630PL, 630PL+ and the 630PS photo printers employ the Dye Diffusion Thermal Transfer (D2T2) technology to deliver 16.77 million color performance. These small footprint printers produce borderless 4" x 6" prints with 256 gradation levels per color which are dot-free thanks to continuous tone printing. It is a 4-pass system that transfers yellow, magenta and cyan dyes from a ribbon to the paper and then applies an overcoat to prevent water and UV damage.
The 630PL must be connected to a PC via USB connectivity and is the least expensive (approx $129 as of 3/03) of the 630 series of printers. The 630PL+ is an advanced model that provides for turbo plus printing speed. The 630PL+ prints a 4" x 6" photo within 50 seconds, half to one-third the print time of competing dye sub printers. The $249 model 630PS reviewed here has the same basic dimensions and print engine of the 630PL plus it offers the ability to operate without need of a PC system.
HiTi 630PS Features:
This is the printer's controller that is used to operate the unit in standalone mode. Instead of hard to reach buttons or a fixed-mount LCD screen that requires you to adjust to its angle, the controller can be handheld to suit the user. You preview your flash card images on the 1.6-inch color LCD monitor, it's also used to access the menu system.
The 4-way control lets you navigate the menu screens and move through the image thumbnails. The MENU button calls up the onscreen menu. The OK button accepts menu selections, the ESC buttons lets you back out to the previous screen. The EDIT button calls up the editing menu and the PRINT button prints the selected photo(s).
Anyone can make beautiful prints quickly and easily. Just insert your camera's flash card into the appropriate card slot, select the pictures you want to print and how many copies to make and then hit the Print button. If your images have already been marked with the standard DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) information in your camera it's even easier -- insert the card and select the DPOF option and hit the OK button, that's it.
In standalone mode you can also edit and enhance your photos as desired. Using the EDIT screen there are options for Move, Rotate, Resize and Enhance. If you want to zoom-in and crop, you select resize to magnify the portion desired and then move it to center the new image. If necessary you can use the Enhance option to adjust the brightness, contrast or color before printing. All of this is accomplished with easy to follow onscreen menus and prompts, it's fun and you don't need to spend an hour reading a manual first.
Note that only JPEG images can be processed and printed in the standalone mode. And some cameras (mostly older ones) do not have the proper thumbnail embedded in the JPEG so no preview thumbnail shows up on the LCD until you go into EDIT mode.
At home or in the office you connect the 630PS directly to your PC with the included
USB cable and use it like any other color printer. In this mode any type of picture
file (JPG, BMP, TIF, etc) can be printed.
See the next page of this review
for the Windows driver options. Also included is a very powerful and easy to use
software application to organize, view, edit and print your pictures.
Mechanics & Performance
The 630PS is a stylish looking, silver colored printer that will easily fit into your computer workspace. Unlike most printers the 630PS is a vertically (stand up) oriented device so it uses the least amount of desk space possible. Don't be surprised when your friends mistake this printer for a futuristic video phone.
Initial setup is simple; unwrap and install the ribbon cartridge, load the paper cassette tray, plug in the power cord, connect the controller, turn it on and insert a memory card -- you're ready to print!
If using the printer with a PC you follow the above steps plus install the Windows drivers, the bundled software programs, plug in the USB cable and in under ten minutes you're ready to print from any Windows' graphic program. I used the 630PS with a variety of programs from the included Photo Desiree to Photoshop, PhotoImpact and ThumbsPlus and it worked flawlessly with all of them.
When printing the 630PS is rather noisey due to its motorized paper transport system that pulls the paper in and out four times over the printhead. And being a thermal transfer printer, it also has a fan that comes on and off automatically to keep things cool. The print time is about a minute and a half when connected to a PC and two to three minutes when running in standalone mode. As expected in standalone mode, smaller image files print faster as they require less "processing" time than the larger three or four megapixel images.
I was happy to see that the printer used a standard PC-type AC power cord and not one
of those !@#$%&! wall-wart transformers. I already have more of those things plugged
into power strips that I can count - why does it seem like every electronic gizmo must
use one of them? Also on the back is the USB port, the connector for the
controller and the On/Off switch. That big slot near the top is where the paper
slides in and out during printing.
Low Cost 4" x 6" Printing
The closest 4" x 6" printer to offer the same features (dye sub technology, standalone operation, color LCD monitor and flash card slots) of the HiTi 630PS is the Sony DPP-SV77 with an MSRP of $499. The 630PS is just half that figure with a suggested retail price of only $249.
Anyone that uses a photo printer, inkjet or dye sub technology, knows that the cost of consumables (ink, ribbons, paper) can quickly exceed the cost of the printer. The HiTi 630PS has a per print cost of only 40¢, its 50-print kit that includes the ribbon cartridge and 50 sheets of paper for $19.95.
In comparison the Sony 25-print pack costs $19.95, twice the price per print at $0.80.
Even inkjet printers are more expensive, here's a breakdown of their per print
costs: HP PhotoSmart 100 $0.83, HP Deskjet 990cxi $0.88, Epson Stylus Photo 890 $0.88
and Canon BJC-8200 $0.86. (Per print costs calculated by the cost of ink cartridges
and photo paper used to produce an equivalent number of 4" x 6" photo prints.)
And those inkjet prints have no water or UV resistant qualities.
Click the thumbnail above to download a 300dpi (230KB) scan of a 630PS print and the same image printed on a Canon S9000 printer. The image on the left is from the 630PS printer.
Note that this scan was down-sampled to keep the download time reasonable but it still shows the print quality of the 630PS. Also be aware that there is nothing more difficult than to scan an inkjet print because the dyes in the ink often reflect scanner light strangely.
HiTi 630PS Photo Printer Specifications
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