Printers aren't Olympus' bread and butter. The company makes only a handful, and as you might expect, they're all photo printers. The company's latest, the P-10 Digital Photo Printer, billed as the fastest portable photo printer on the market, is certainly speedy, but for over £100, we expect either top-of-the-line output or an abundance of useful features. Unfortunately, the P-10 has neither.
We're big fans of the Olympus P-10's cube-shaped design; it's cute, simple, and very compact. It looks like a petite workgroup laser printer, complete with a 50-sheet input drawer that slides out of the front panel. The ink ribbon slides out of a hatch in the side panel. The P-10's silver-matte body is offset by a dramatic teal-blue front panel. The only control on the body is the power button. You can connect the printer to your PC via the USB port in the back (cable not included). The P-10 also supports PictBridge, so you can connect any compatible digital camera to the USB port on the front panel.
On the downside, the P-10 doesn't have removable media slots or an LCD, so you can't print directly from your camera's memory card. If you don't have a PictBridge camera, you'll have to print through your PC. If you demand a lot of options, such as a card reader, you may be happier with a printer that has more features, such as the HP Photosmart 245.
Olympus was pretty stingy with the P-10's features. On the included CD-ROM you'll find the standard drivers, but none of the bundled image-management and image-editing software we've come to expect with snapshot printers. Even its drivers are basic. The print window has only three accessible tabs: Paper, Graphics and About. Within each tab, Paper covers paper size, number of copies, and borderless printing; Graphics contains a slider bar for adjusting brightness, contrast, gamma, and sharpness; and About just tells you which version of the driver you're using. We expected a little more.
Like many snapshot printers, the P-10 comes with a small five-print starter pack that includes a ribbon cartridge and paper. One notable quirk: Olympus's 100x150mm paper is slightly smaller than its alleged dimensions.
The P-10's prints should please the average digital photographer. At first glance, our test photos appeared smooth and detailed, with pleasing colours. On close scrutiny, however, we saw jaggies in details such as clock hands and noticed a general loss of detail in both shadows and highlights. For example, we could barely see a white egg against a white background or the dark pebbles in a fish tank. The colours in the P-10's prints are also a bit cool, especially compared to those in top-rated prints such as the ones produced by the Sony DPP-EX50 or the full-size Epson Stylus R300. Skin tones look especially pale.
The Olympus P-10 performed very well in our speed tests. It cranked out a 100x150mm borderless photo in 1 minute, 4.2 seconds -- among the fastest times we've seen.
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CNET Labs project leader Dong Van Ngo contributed to this section.
Additional editing by Nick Hide