Review Sony’s Snaplab

In mid January 2006 Sony announced the launch of the Sony Snaplab, a new entry level Photo Printing Kiosk that was destined to further Sony’s position as a major player in the photo finishing market. Now nearly two years on, Sony’s Snaplab has begun a rapid growth on our very own shores, and having spent the last year working with this product I thought it was time that I reported back my findings.

Sony has for some time now had a strong product line of dye-sub printers and in many respects have taken the lead in speed and arguably quality too. Just earlier this year they launched the UP-GR700, an 8×10 inch printer that works on a dye-sub roll and offers a quick 48sec print.

Sony’s main printer, the UP-DR150 is currently in its fourth variation and offers probably the fastest 4×6” (jumbo) print time on the market, in fact this printer has very recently made its way into a number of even photographer’s kits locally allowing instant satisfaction for clients who are increasingly demanding on site printing for their functions.

So, what then sets the Snaplab apart from the rest of the Sony range? The list could look something like this:

* Size – the Snaplab weighs in at a mere 11kg compare to the 20kg of the bigger DR-150’s. Counter space wise – if you plan on having it in a store – it is not much bigger than a fax machine and if you wish to cart it around to events pack it in a Pelican 1620 and off you go.
* Speed – Although the Snaplab is not as fast as the UP-DR150, it still offers a 17sec print time which is faster than most inkjet options.
* Price – for under R20,000.00 you can get a full photo kiosk which is compact and likely the most user friendly model on the market.

What other features does the Snaplab offer? It has a vast range of ID/Passport templates to cater for local home affairs requirements and even International Visas.

For those of you creative Photoshop users, there is a plugin that allows you to design borders that can be printed around each image, so you can offer clients a corporate branded image for their function on each print without taking out your laptop, saving time onsite in a way not easily possible before.

If you plan on using in a store, the unit has an optional Bluetooth upgrade which will greatly increase your customer base. All the above is good and well, but what are the prints like? Only one word comes to mind, GREAT! They’re vibrant, accurate and durable, thanks to the laminate layer applied by the dye-sub process which means images are not affected by accidental beverage spills around the album and archival from 70-100 years.

For those of you wanting a less costly unit, the Sony CX-1 is the same printer without the built in touch screen interface, perhaps give it a try, and if its just for the occasional home print, Sony’s consumer DPP-FP60 is now available online at Digital Planet.