HiTi 640GALA - A Personal Digital Mini-Lab
Hi-Touch Imaging Technologies (HiTi) has taken the best of their very compact Photo Shuttle printer, added the handy controller with 1.6" color LCD and flash memory card slots and the ability to print photos with your own custom designed templates. The new $329 HiTi 640GALA printer can work on-location events without a computer or at home with or without being connected to your computer.
Like all of HiTi's printers, the 640GALA photo printer employs the Dye Diffusion Thermal Transfer (D2T2) technology to deliver 16.77 million color performance. These small footprint printers produce borderless 4x6" prints with 256 gradation levels per color which are dot-free thanks to continuous tone printing. It's a 4-pass system that transfers yellow, magenta and cyan dyes from a ribbon to the paper and then applies a protective overcoat to prevent water damage and UV fading.
This is a completely dry printing system, you'll never have to mess with any ink cartridges or head clogs again - ever.
HiTi 640GALA Features:
This is the printer controller 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 edit and enhance your photos as desired. Using the EDIT menu 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.
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 640GALA 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 640GALA is a compact, charcoal gray colored printer that will easily fit into your computer workspace. Unlike most printers the 640GALA 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 640GALA 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 640GALA's motorized paper transport system pulls the paper in and out four times over the printhead. 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, four or five megapixel images.
I was happy to see that the printer used a standard PC-type AC power cord and not one
of those [email protected]#$%&! 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
In comparison the Sony 25-print pack costs $19.95, twice the price per print at $0.80. And inkjet printers can be expensive too: HP PhotoSmart 100 $0.83, HP Deskjet 990cxi $0.88, Epson and Canon are about $0.86. (Per print costs calculated by the cost of ink cartridges and photo paper used to produce an equivalent number of 4x6" photo prints.) And those inkjet prints have no water or UV resistant qualities.
HiTi also has other print packs with 16 mini-stickers per page, 8 mini-stickers and two large stickers per page, and now they have a special ribbon for printing black and white prints.
HiTi 640GALA Photo Printer Specifications
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