Have you ever wanted a pocket-sized printer so you can hand out personal prints everywhere you go? Then Kodak's newest mobile printer might be for you.
There are more cellphone photos being taken every day and uploaded online to sites like Instagram than all the cameras on the market combined. With the amazing quality of images coming from phones like the Google Pixel 3 and newest iPhone, it's worth looking into solutions to print those images. Like a lot of the staff at Fstoppers, I'm a big believer in printing and displaying your work. There is something to be said for giving physical life to your images in a tangible print. So I like the idea of being able to have a small printer in my bag I can quickly connect to my phone and print out a couple of prints. There is also something social in being able to give someone a take away right then and there.
Kodak's newest device the Mini 2 HD Wireless Instant printer is slightly different than most the other instant printers on the market. It doesn't use an instant film like the Fuji Instax devices or ZINK (zero ink) paper like Polaroid and several others. Instead, it's a 4 pass dye-sub technology that Kodak claims offers much better color quality and longer print life. It comes in a cartridge that loads easily into the printer's side rather than a package of sheets.
Design and Build
Its size is reasonable coming in at about 5 by 3 inches and a thickness of about an inch. It easily could fit in a pocket or small bag without being bulky. It has a nice glossy modern looking finish with a more durable and slip resistant bottom. It comes in several colors including pink and light blue which is a nice feature if its a gift for someone. There is no complicated control system just a simple power button and connection LED on one side and a micro USB port and charging LED on the back. One side opens for the cartridge and there is a small slot on the front where the prints come out. It doesn't feel cheap in your hand. It's light but doesn't flex or deform when handled.
It has both Bluetooth and NFC connectivity. Making it super easy to start printing in seconds. If you're using an Android phone like me you just tap the printer with your phone and you're ready to go. If you don't have NFC then the Bluetooth setup is as easy as any other Bluetooth device.
There is a built-in 620 mAh rechargeable lithium battery. It's difficult to say how long the battery will last but while printing I managed to print at least 15 prints without recharging. I also left it for a week while away and came back to it still fully charged so that's good.
Printing and Prints
The actual printing is quite interesting. The paper will move in and out of the printer four times each time adding a different step to the development. Depending on the image, you can see a yellow, red, and blue pass with the last pass being a clear coat for a longer life and vibrancy. Kodak says the 4Pass technology is capable of 256 Gradations and 16.7 million colors, with a lifespan up to 10yrs. The entire process takes less than a minute and once done is dry instantly so no waiting.
The cartridges come in packs of 20, 30, and 50. The 50 sheet package being the best deal at about 70 cents a print.
The prints themselves are about the size of a credit card which is bigger than some of the other instant prints I've seen and a decent size. Think business card sized. I had a couple of prints made on ZINK paper from another device so I compared the same images printed on the Kodak. The ZINK paper seemed to have better dynamic range and detail but the image overall was darker and with muted colors. The Kodak paper had bright vibrant colors but a softer image. For the size of these prints the better color stands out more than the sharper detail and I much prefer the Kodak paper over the ZINK. I also didn't do any specific editing over my usual editing to try and get a better result. I'm sure with a little practice like any printer you could dial in your images for the best results.
The paper quality, in general, was very good. It has a durable feel to it, doesn't show fingerprints, and seems like it wouldn't get ruined quickly if you gave it away. Supposedly the paper is waterproof but I didn't test this out.
The Kodak app is simple to use and well designed. There is a battery indicator for the printer and if it gets too low it won't let you print which is a great feature. You can search through all the different galleries you have on your phone like Lightroom, Instagram, or your phone camera. You can also do some editing within the app and it has a lot of options but it's not going to be as good as say a dedicated editing app like Lightroom. Once an image is selected you simply press print and it starts printing.
What I Liked
- Overall Size/Portability
- Print Quality
- Built-in Battery
- Print from any Camera
What I Didn't Like
- Dynamic Range of Print
- Cartridge is Extra Waste
Small portable printers like this may not be for everyone but the quality and ease of use make them pretty decent devices. If you travel a lot and like the idea of handing out little prints than this printer will probably be what you are looking for. I think it would make a great gift for anyone who is really into taking photos with their phone. It would even be something for a young kid just getting into photography. The ability to hold and feel the images you take is something a lot of younger photographers might not be used to these days. This would be a great way to get them excited and interested in the art form.
If you're looking to print your own little mini gallery show then these might not be for you. Personally, I like that I can print any image from any camera and use it as a talking point. The social aspect of printing quick little prints and handing them out holds a lot of value to me and that's probably how I will use it.