Canon Selphy CP790 review

The Canon Selphy CP790 looks more like a lunch box than a printer. With its convenient handle, it begs you to take it to your next children’s party or family get-together. The trade-offs are a high purchase price and oddly designed, wasteful consumables.

The actual printer acts as the top-heavy lid of an oval bucket (the whole thing weighs 1.1kg). The bucket has two compartments for storing the AC adaptor, paper caddies, and supplies. To make the CP790 truly portable, you’ll need to buy the rechargeable lithium ion battery pack. A Bluetooth adaptor is also an added extra.

The top control panel of the CP790 consists of compass-style navigation controls and five logically labelled and intuitive control buttons. Menu items display on a 3in colour LCD above the buttons. You can print directly from one of three media card readers or from a PictBridge-connected device. You can also transfer images via an infrared port on the front panel. Canon does not include a USB cable with the printer.

The CP790 needed about a minute to print one 4 x 6in photo in our tests, which is faster than past models in the Selphy series. Print quality was mostly good: greyscale photos and portraits looked natural, but landscape shots were excessively yellow and lacked detail.

The dye-sublimation technology of the Selphy CP790 is distinctive, but not in good ways. The paper-tray design is clumsy, for one. The printer’s two cassettes hold postcard- or credit card-size paper (18 sheets maximum). The cassettes’ double-layered lids require juggling. To load paper, you lift both lids; to insert the cassette into the printer, you replace just the inner lid, while the exterior lid acts as the output tray. During printing, paper moves back and forth through the printer multiple times, sticking out the front and the back, just asking for someone to tug at it prematurely.

The ink design is wasteful, too. It comes in rolls of film, containing successive sections of cyan, magenta, and yellow, plus a clear finishing coat. During printing, each section of colour passes over the paper and then rolls up for disposal, regardless of how much might be left. Also, you need dedicated rolls for each paper size. Canon doesn’t have a recycling program for its ink supplies, but you can send the printer back to Canon for recycling.

At least the consumables costs are tolerable and a five-print starter kit with postcard-size photo paper comes with the printer.

OUR VERDICT

The Canon Selphy CP790 succeeds in being portable, capable, and even amusing. Still, the awkward paper handling and plastic-intensive ink cartridges are drawbacks.