4"x6" Printers: Your Own Photo Lab

Canon Selphy CP500

Clearly positioned at the entry level, the Selphy CP500 was amazingly fast and had the lowest cost per page of the units we tested. On the other hand, the print quality was far from the best.

Design And Ergonomics

Weighing only 2.2 lb (1 kg) the Selphy CP500 is the lightest 4"x6" printer on the market. Canon has left off all the frills, and we mean all. There isn't a single button on the printer body, not even an on/off. The unit is active as soon it's plugged in, with only a bluish light - too intense, by the way - to show that it's ready to print. The driver is also reduced to its simplest possible implementation; not much configuration is possible.

There's also no LCD display, either for managing the menus or displaying the photos. That's easy enough to explain - the Selphy CP500 has no memory-card slot; you'll have to use the computer or the PictBridge connector for printing.

Print Quality

Since the Selphy CP500 uses thermal sublimation, don't expect knockout colors. As our quality tests show, it had a tendency to mute the brightest colors. With black-and-white printing, this took the form of darkened shades. On the other hand, it did much better when the photos to be printed stressed lighter colors, since sublimation is better suited to rendering them.

Printing Speed

Printing speed is one of the Selphy CP500's strong points. It was the only one capable of putting out a 4"x6" photo in less than one minute. That's all the more remarkable when you consider that sublimation printing is done in four passes.

Cost Per Print

The Selphy CP500 is the fastest of the printers we tested, and it's also the least expensive. Not only is the purchase price one of the most affordable - it was recently lowered - but the new pack Canon offers including 108 sheets of paper and the corresponding film adds up to a cost per page of only 30 cents.


The Selphy CP500 is suited to users who want to print large numbers of photos but aren't looking for quality at any price. It's ideal, for example, for instant printing of pictures during a party to give to guests. But you should look at another model if you're a stickler for quality.

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