Dell is known for all things related to PCs, like monitors and other computer peripherals. But printers? Departing from its usual offerings, the company has decided to dabble in the photo printing realm and treated us to a gob of its new Wasabi portable photo printer.
Given that the Dell Wasabi is touted as a portable photo printer, we expected it to be adequately light and easy on the hands. With its battery included, the Wasabi weighs in at a handy 225g and is only slightly larger than our palms. This puts it head to head with the Polaroid Pogo that's just as portable.
The printer slot is located at one end of the device, churning out the printed images on its adhesive-backed Zero Ink (ZINK) paper, which is slightly smaller than a typical name card. On the opposing end from the printer slot, there's the Power button, which works in tandem with the battery indicators just on top. In line with its funky image, the battery life is indicated either by a smiling or a sad face icon, representing a normal or low charge of its battery respectively.
Right beside the Power button is the One-Touch Reprint function. Like it says, this will reprint the last image that was sent to the Wasabi. Lastly, to open up the hinged plastic cover at the top for you to refill the Zero Ink paper, there's an unlocking mechanism to the right of the One-Touch Reprint button.
Ink Stains Begone!
The Wasabi's unique feature lies in its lack of ink cartridges. You only need the ZINK paper, which has Dell's trademarked Amorphochromatic Crystals inside. By introducing a varying degree of heat to the crystals, specific colors will be produced on the ZINK paper. As such, it's akin to a Polaroid camera, where you'll be spending your moolah on the ZINK paper (and of course, the Wasabi printer too).
Being a portable device, the Wasabi supports two forms of input: PictBridge and Bluetooth. With PictBridge, it's pretty straightforward: get a PictBridge compliant digital camera, connect it to the mini-USB port on the Wasabi, and just send the images to print. For Bluetooth, the idea is to use the mobile device's Bluetooth feature, establish a connection to the Wasabi and send the image for printing.
The Wasabi's printing speed is obviously not as swift as dedicated compact printers. We timed printing speeds (factoring in the data sending time too) ranging from 54 to 56 seconds using both PictBridge and Bluetooth connections.
Alternating between images taken from a Nokia N95 8GB's camera and a Nikon COOLPIX S620, we noticed a significant amount of noise along with a greenish hue on the prints. A quick check with the original images showed that this only occurs on the Wasabi's prints and not the source files. Theoretically, the Wasabi can print up to 15 prints on a single charge, but Dell sells the ZINK paper in a pack of 12 sheets, which also happens to be the maximum paper capacity within the Wasabi.
The Wasabi performs adequately for those occasions when convenience matters more than print quality. For S$319, it is however kind of pricey compared to other dedicated compact printers that may boast more features. Still, if you are into funky gadgets, you can get the Wasabi in three colors, namely pink, blue or black.