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Printers

Tom's Back To School Guide: Gear for Work
By

By Rachel Rosmarin

Kodak ESP 5 All-In-One

$169, available from Kodak.com

This 13 pound workhorse would be a smart purchase for any household, dormitory, or off-campus apartment filled with students. The “All-In-One” name gives away the printer’s goals — to meet your every printing need: photos and text, copies and scans, and both wired and wireless connectivity (the latter via Bluetooth).

At $169, the ESP 5 isn’t the cheapest do-everything printer on the market, but it might be a better deal in the long run. Ink cartridges cost only $10 to replace for black, and $15 for color; photo-quality color ink cartridges for competitors can cost up to $40. Kodak also sells the ESP 5 in a bundle with four black ink and three color ink cartridges for $189.

The printer can accommodate paper sizes ranging from the standard photo snapshot 4”x6”, to larger-than-standard documents at 8.5”x14”. It reads just about every flash media format, and prints quickly, too, for an ink jet: 30 pages per minute in black, 29 pages per minute in color, and best-quality photos at two 4x6s per minute, according to Kodak.

Unlike most other All-In-One printers, the ESP 5 isn’t a drab gray block of plastic. Kodak’s version is a variation in shiny and matte black with textured dips and dots on the outside. It is also smaller than expected due to a paper tray that functions as both an incoming and outgoing slot.

Canon Selphy CP770

$149, available from usa.cannon.com

Make sure Canon’s newest portable photo printer is on your back to school bucket list: the Selphy CP770 is, quite literally, a bucket. The petite apricot-colored printer snaps into the top of a white bucket, complete with handle, that stores paper, ink cartridges, a power supply and just about anything else.

We can see this device coming in handy multiple times during the school year, for soccer games, school plays, recitals, classroom art projects, field trips and more. An enterprising parent might even make back a few bucks off the Selphy’s $149 price tag by bringing the printer to some of these events, and charging other parents money for photos. Or, you could just donate the cash back to your kid’s school.

Photos are editable on the Selphy’s 2.5" LCD screen: you can correct red-eye, adjust skin tone, and enhance photos with effects like sepia, vivid and black & white. The printer is also built for little art projects, and Canon sells printer media for wallet-size prints and miniature photo stickers.

Canon admits that each ink cartridge only lasts for about 36 4"x6" photos, and the quality of each print isn’t the highest we’ve seen for a portable photo printer — HP’s older PhotoSmart models take the prize there — but the photos print quickly and they certainly aren’t bad. The Selphy can spit out around two prints per minute using its dye-sublimation thermal transfer technique, which sequentially does coats of red, green and blue, followed by a glossy topcoat.

Setting up the printer isn’t especially easy — it’s not child’s play — but once the paper and ink cartridges are in place, a kid could easily connect a camera, phone, or memory card to the device and print out snaps without help. For most print jobs, a computer isn’t even needed. Keep in mind, though, that a device must be enabled with PictBridge, DirecPrint, Bluetooth (if you buy the Bluetooth Selphy device, sold separately), or IRSimple to connect seamlessly with the Selphy CP770. We tried to insert a standard USB flash drive into the Selphy’s USB port and got an angry error message because it wasn’t PictBridge enabled. Surprise, surprise — we got our best results with a Canon PowerShot Camera.

Polaroid Pogo

$149, available from BestBuy.com

Where the Selphy CP770 is perfect for homes with kids, Polaroid’s new PoGo photo printer seems ideal for a teenager’s backpack. It’s a stretch to say that the tiny PoGo could do much for your teen’s academics — maybe the device would be better served as a reward for stellar grades. For now, the iPod-sized device can only be purchased from Best Buy, Urban Outfitters and Target.

The PoGo riffs on the Polaroid of yore, providing instant gratification with funky-shaped photographs. But instead of being a printer and camera in one, the Pogo is just a printer that reads pictures off phones and cameras via Bluetooth and PictBridge. The pictures it prints are 2”x3”, and take about one minute each to creep out of the PoGo. Beware that not all Bluetooth-enabled phones work with the PoGo.

Rather than ink, the eight-ounce PoGo makes use of heat-activated “dye crystals,” billions of which are embedded within special paper to produce images. A company called Zink makes the paper — a 10-pack of sheets costs $3.99. Some of the paper has a peel-off adhesive layer, making it perfect for decorating notebooks, lockers, skateboards and so forth.

The photos don’t have the same artsy, low-tech look as old-fashioned Polaroid shots — instead they’re brighter, crisper and less ethereal. And, unlike traditional Polaroid pictures, you don’t have to shake these.

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  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 21, 2008 7:30 AM
    Is the title image taken in Singapore?
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , July 21, 2008 9:01 AM
    grantyaleIs the title image taken in Singapore?


    Couldn't tell ya =)
  • 2 Hide
    njalterio , July 21, 2008 1:12 PM
    Haha.....as a university student who will be heading back to school for my final year this August I must say so much of this is unnecessary.

    First off, if you are living at home and/or still in high school absolutely none of this is necessary. Use the home PC.

    Second, If you are going away to college, then get either a cheap laptop or desktop and one ethernet cable. End of story. You will be able to print through your university's printers, and most likely you will be able to get very cheap software from the university. I can buy Vista Ultimate for $15. Norton Antivirus is free.

    Third, do not buy Apple as it is way to expensive. As a college student your money would be much better used elsewhere. This article did not do justice to Lenovo at all. I highly recommend a ThinkPad T61. (I priced a 2.4 GHz dual core and 4 GB of RAM and 100 GB hard drive for around $1100). The same hardware configuration would cost over $3000 in a Mac.

    4) DO NOT SPEND MONEY IN WARRANTY/REPAIR/TROUBLESHOOTING SOFTWARE OR SERVICES! At your university there will be many smart and intelligent people who will be able to help you out for free. Depending on the size of your university, there will probably be a free tech support service somewhere on campus.

  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , July 21, 2008 2:06 PM
    What about those of students who are in engineering and need laptops that can handle lots of CAD, a simple budget laptop will not do. Look at Mississippi State's requirements in the engineering dept for entering freshman, a required 256 bit gpu and they recommend 512 bit. Just wondering if we could see something more high end for the technical fields, this is a great read though
  • 0 Hide
    njalterio , July 21, 2008 2:31 PM
    I am also a student in engineering and I am quite familiar with the computer hardware required. If you are an engineering major, then you should invest $200 more to get a laptop or desktop with discrete graphics.

    I was pointing out that a getting a $3000 laptop is ridiculous, and definitely should not be considered "vital" for back to school.
  • 0 Hide
    mitch074 , July 21, 2008 2:48 PM
    Overall quite nice, but:

    - getting a Thinkpad may be more expensive, but it has two enormous advantages: it's extremely sturdy, and it is easily serviceable; if you want to keep your laptop for 3 years, you'll have a better time with it than any other laptop series

    - Google Docs is nice, but it requires an always-on Internet connection. I can't, for the life of me, understand why there's no OpenOffice.org mentioned anywhere: it's free, it's powerful, it's stable, and it's available for all systems cited (yes, even MacOS X - Aqua version will be out in september).

    - if all you do is type notes and browse the Web, a netbook may just be what you need: lighter, smaller, cuter, faster to boot. It is also far less expensive. The MSI Wind and it's rather large screen and keyboard are a good thing, you can still get an USB keyboard and connect it to a flat screen TV to turn it into a more comfortable workstation in your dorm room.

    For those of you telling me that 'Vista is required', bull: the Apple one runs OS X, you can run Linux or XP without trouble in such a context (yes, there is Java and Flash support under Linux; even Google Earth runs very well).
  • 0 Hide
    gaiden , July 21, 2008 3:04 PM
    I hope you chain that 24" LCD to an iron desk in your drom room. Best things for college are FREE or Second hand, no need to pay premium $$$ for new stuffs. I pay for my own tuition and all my other expense, so there is no way a 'regular' student or their parent will consider buying something this big and pricy. PC component side are decent however.

    The dude above who asks for a Laptop/notebook to work on CAD, maybe a Dell Vostro 1500 and possibly runs in XP. CAD doesn't have all the support from Vista yet...i don't think. Basically if you are all work and no play just make sure you get a Core 2 Duo CPU with a Quadro card and 3-4gb of RAM. If you play some games get a C2D/3-4gb RAM and a Nvidia 8600 and up instead of a Quadro

    gl
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , July 21, 2008 3:53 PM
    gaidenI hope you chain that 24" LCD to an iron desk in your drom room. Best things for college are FREE or Second hand, no need to pay premium $$$ for new stuffs. I pay for my own tuition and all my other expense, so there is no way a 'regular' student or their parent will consider buying something this big and pricy. PC component side are decent however. The dude above who asks for a Laptop/notebook to work on CAD, maybe a Dell Vostro 1500 and possibly runs in XP. CAD doesn't have all the support from Vista yet...i don't think. Basically if you are all work and no play just make sure you get a Core 2 Duo CPU with a Quadro card and 3-4gb of RAM. If you play some games get a C2D/3-4gb RAM and a Nvidia 8600 and up instead of a Quadrogl


    Ain't it the truth. Nothing tweaked me more than when I had an old-school HP notebook nabbed from my office on-campus during a two minute bathroom break. A shame you have to lock everything down just to let it out of your sight for a second.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 21, 2008 4:24 PM
    In my opinion, if you don't play or make games, do scripting or anything else that may take lots of processing power you dont need to spend more than like... 300$ on a computer. To cut down on the price I would get 1gb 667 mhz (15$) of RAM, a Pentium Dual-Core (about 60$) and a PCI video card for about 50$. It would no doubt be more than enough for surfing the internet, watching movies, and using MS Word.
  • 0 Hide
    mbmcavoy , July 21, 2008 5:52 PM
    For students in a technical field, (engineering, computer science, etc), a Windows laptop probably is best due to specialty software/hardware needs. But for the majority of students in non-technical fields, I'd highly recommend the MacBook.

    Sure it seems more expensive if you compare hardware spec sheets, but the OS and included Apps make it a worthwhile package. Plus, iWork is much cheaper than MS Office. (Oh, and currently a free $300 iPod Touch for students and teachers sweetens the pot!)

    General setup and maintenance issues are much less, so you'll have more time for actual studying - especially important for the non-techie! And while Windows has "sleep" features, I've never had consistent success with it. The sleep on my MacBook is bulletproof, and it wakes up in about 1 second. Perfect for the mad dash between classes!

    Of course, if you are a non-techie, you probably aren't reading THG... :) 
  • 0 Hide
    njalterio , July 22, 2008 1:37 AM
    @ mbmcavaoy: There is a about a $2000 price difference (including Windows OS) between a MacBook Pro and a decent Lenovo, Acer, Dell, etc. The price of Microsoft Office comes no where near to cover that price gap. Besides, if you are going to college chances are you will have access to Microsoft software for free.
  • 0 Hide
    mbmcavoy , July 22, 2008 2:58 AM
    njalterio@ mbmcavaoy: There is a about a $2000 price difference (including Windows OS) between a MacBook Pro and a decent Lenovo, Acer, Dell, etc.


    WOW!!! All those other computers are free??? A MacBook Pro starts at $2000. However, I was talking about the basic MacBook, $1099 as mentioned in the article. College students (and all teachers) get a $100 discount, so $999. That's only $250 more than the cheapest laptop in the article.

    Consider that the MacBook-buying student (or teacher) also currently gets a free iPod Touch. Assuming the PC-buying student also wants one, he's now paid $50 more than the MacBook customer.

    Even assuming MS Office is free, vs. the $71 student price on iWork, it's only $21 difference.

    So, again for the non-techie college student, I believe the MacBook is an excellent choice.
  • 0 Hide
    Haiku214 , July 22, 2008 4:16 AM
    First year University students are actually the only ones excited to buy a new laptop :) 
  • 0 Hide
    njalterio , July 22, 2008 12:31 PM
    mbmcavoyWOW!!! All those other computers are free??? A MacBook Pro starts at $2000. However, I was talking about the basic MacBook, $1099 as mentioned in the article. College students (and all teachers) get a $100 discount, so $999. That's only $250 more than the cheapest laptop in the article.Consider that the MacBook-buying student (or teacher) also currently gets a free iPod Touch. Assuming the PC-buying student also wants one, he's now paid $50 more than the MacBook customer.Even assuming MS Office is free, vs. the $71 student price on iWork, it's only $21 difference. So, again for the non-techie college student, I believe the MacBook is an excellent choice.


    That is the absolute cheapest Mac you can get. The hardware you get from that laptop at it's base price is terrible. I really don't see why you would get that laptop when you can spend the same amount of money and get much better hardware. The upgrades are way over priced too.

    $1099 for that laptop? Are you kidding me? You can get an alienware desktop for that much money, which before Apple got big I thought was the biggest overhyped, over priced excuse for a computer you could buy.

    If you want to go buy a macbook be my guest, but please stop making the argument that it is a value purchase. The real reason is because it is hip and trendy. And that iPod touch deal is nonsense. When I want to spend money on a computer, it goes toward a computer, not some over rated hard drive that plays mp3s.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 22, 2008 3:24 PM
    Most of the things in the articles, though very nice, are way over budget for a typical college student. I wouldnt pay over $600 for a new laptop. If I was just using it to surf the web, watch videos, and do work, having a laptop with a decent CPU, plenty of RAM (at least 2GB, 4GB preferable) is pretty much all I would need in that case. And of course, running Windows XP or Vista. I wouldnt get any Mac just because it's costs way too much. If you don't want to buy MS Office, OpenOffice is absolutely wonderful and free, or Google Docs.

    I often hear about people's laptops getting stolen. Another reason why you shouldnt buy a really expensive laptop to bring to your dorm.

    I really like the 24" LCD displays in the article, though I wouldn't bring it to the dorm, I don't want that stolen either.
  • 0 Hide
    mbmcavoy , July 22, 2008 6:37 PM
    njalterioThat is the absolute cheapest Mac you can get.


    Except for the $600 Mac Mini.

    Did you read the article? Page 5 is "Budget Laptops", that is what I'm posting in response to. That means cheap laptops, and not mid-range desktops.

    The hardware you get from that laptop at it's base price is terrible.


    Compare the MacBook specs with the others listed in the article. It holds its own, matching or exceeding most of them. OS X isn't as resource-intensive as Windows, so it's OK with less memory. And for most uses, the smaller hard drive is adequate.

    Sure the screen is smaller than the others, but it's the same resolution, and crisp. The keyboard and partially multi-touch trackpad are by far the best of any laptop I have ever used. (My work laptop feels crippled!)

    Compared with the other budget laptops in this article, the hardware is solid. But of course, I didn't buy my MacBook for the hardware, and that's not why I recommend it. I bought it for OS X, Time Machine, and the iLife suite, and it hasn't disappointed. That is well-worth the premium - especially for a student who isn't inclined to be their own IT department.

    I'm even thinking about replacing another Windows desktop with that Mini. If it had a good discrete video card, I'd Boot Camp/VM Windows (for occasional games/CAD) on it and dump my other boxes completely. :) 
  • 1 Hide
    rievax , July 22, 2008 8:58 PM
    " Students who don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on an Office suite have a slew of alternatives available to them. And although not all are created equal — and there really isn’t any true replacement for Microsoft Excel — Google Docs is a fine alternative that comes with an attractive price "

    Why not using OpenOffice.Org (www.openoffice.org). It is free. It is MUCH more powerfull than the Online Google Docs and it is really a good replacement for MS Office for Students (and even professionals).
  • 0 Hide
    njalterio , July 24, 2008 4:51 AM
    @ mbmcavoy: Well we seem to have reached an agreement that there is less value in Mac hardware for the price compared to other laptops (less RAM, smaller hard drive, etc.)

    I guess we will have to agree to disagree regarding the usefulness of OS X.

    I'll admit that iLife is cool, but I don't see why a student would need to spend more money for software such as that. Students are generally very strapped for cash (I can vouch), and the software that comes with the Mac just doesn't seem like a reason to spring for the extra cash. Time Machine is alright, but Windows also has it's own built in back up utility in addition to support for an array of third party programs.

    Rest assured, you do not need to be your own IT department to use Windows XP or Vista. The only people I know who have that level of difficulty using computers are in the 60+ age group. If a student is experiencing difficulty using a Windows OS, well then they should re-evaluate if college is for them. lol.

    Good luck with putting a discrete card in the Mini. I doubt you will find one that even fits, and I do not see any expansion slots in that mini case. Plus you are going to have some serious over heating issues if you put any capable card in such a small insulated space.
  • 0 Hide
    Chriss CH , August 13, 2011 10:05 AM
    Nice bags but i would recommend Designer Laptop Bags for best use and for fission as well.