If convenience and portability outweigh versatility, consider a snapshot printer--a compact unit designed to print small photos and nothing else.
Often smaller than a few DVD-movie cases stacked atop each other, snapshot printers generally print only 4x6-inch photos. (A few models can also produce 5x7-inch prints or 4x12-inch panoramas.) These printers aren't intended to replace regular inkjets but are a quick, easy way to print photos at home or on the go. They use precut paper and either the inkjet process or dye-sublimation technology.
Dye-sub models transfer color from transparent ribbons housed in a cartridge. Yellow, magenta, and cyan are applied in separate passes, followed by a clear coat.
Two factors are stirring up interest in snapshot printers. First, there are more of them. Most printer makers and some camera manufacturers now sell these dedicated photo printers, typically for $80 to $200. Some companies bundle a camera and a printer--usually with a docking station for the camera--for $200 to $300.
Second, photo costs have dropped. High print costs were a drawback when the first models hit the market some years back. Most snapshot printers now have per-photo costs of about 25 to 40 cents, comparable to full-sized inkjets.
WHY CHOOSE A SNAPSHOT PRINTER?
Given that snapshot printers cost about the same as some full-sized inkjet printers and have similar photo costs, why should you consider settling for less functionality? For three reasons: convenience, speed, and portability.
Ease of use is unequaled--this is as close to one-touch printing as you can get. Because snapshot printers are designed to do just one thing, there are no print settings to adjust, as with regular inkjets. …