Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.In both looks and features, the Canon CP-330 resembles the company's previous-generation portable photo printer, the CP-300. Measuring 6.7 by 4.8 by 2.2 inches and weighing just 1 pound, 14 ounces without ink, paper cassette, or battery installed, the CP-330 is just as compact as its predecessor. Like the CP-300, the CP-330 has a luminous circle on its top that glows yellow, cyan, or magenta as each respective color of dye is printed.
There's a little door in the front panel that flips down to receive one of the two included paper cassettes, which hold 18 sheets each of 4x6 or 4x8 paper (extra cassettes in different sizes are sold separately). On the right side, you'll see a hatch for loading the ink cassettes, and on the left side are two USB ports: one for connecting the printer to your PC or Mac and another for connecting a compatible Canon digital camera or any camera that supports the PictBridge direct-print standard.
The CP-330 comes with a battery pack that snaps onto the back of the printer. According to Canon, the rechargeable lithium-ion battery gives about 90 minutes of print time. You should be able to get 65 to 80 prints out of a charge--depending on how rich with graphics your photos are.
Its size makes it easy to take on the road with you, but you'll need a fair bit of elbow room to work with it. The battery adds a few inches and several ounces, and the paper cassettes stick out as much as 9.5 inches from the front. During printing, the CP-330 sucks paper in and out of the back of the printer four times as it lays down ink, so you'll need about 8 inches of clearance in the back as well. All in all, the CP-330 is a pretty basic printer. It does what it's supposed to do--print snapshots--with no unnecessary fuss. Because the Canon CP-330 is so small, there's no room on its body for an LCD or removable media slots (for a portable printer that does have these features, look to the HP Photosmart 245). You can print directly from certain Canon digital cameras as well as from other cameras that support the PictBridge standard, but any changes you want make to the photo or the printing process will depend on the capabilities of the camera; the printer has no editing functions.
Canon includes a suite of software for managing your photos and printing from your PC or Mac. The software lets you change print layouts, add a frame, or stitch multiple photos together for a panoramic effect. However, there's no editing application included here, so you can't crop, remove red-eye, or otherwise alter your photos unless you already have software that does this. That's pretty skimpy for a relatively expensive printer such as this.
The CP-330's print drivers are incredibly basic. From the Print Settings tab, you can choose what size paper to use, the orientation, the number of copies, and whether you want borderless prints. The Image Adjustment tab lets you tweak saturation, hue, brightness, and contrast, and the Utilities tab simply tells you whether the printer's notification messages are on, such as pop-ups that let you know if printing fails or you run out of ink. Even though it's a tad slower than its brother, the CP-300, the Canon CP-330 was pretty speedy in CNET Labs' tests. It took 1.57 minutes to print a 4x6-inch photo. By comparison, the competing HP Photosmart 245 and the Sony Picture Station took 2.36 minutes and 1.54 minutes to do the same job, respectively. Overall, the CP-330 is a smooth performer, though it's a little noisier than most dye-sub printers we've tested.
Image quality was good but certainly not the best we've seen. The printer did a nice job of producing smooth, realistic skin tones of various hues. However, the overall effect was of a picture taken in slightly soft focus, and the printer was unable to reproduce the finest details in our tricky test photo. For example, there's a little tin robot toy in the picture. Prints that we rate excellent, such as those from the HP Photosmart 7960, are able to reproduce the robot's vintage orangey-red color and the tiny silver rivets in its suit. The CP-330's version was a darker shade of red, and none of the suit details came out. We partly attribute this to some banding in the print, which seemed to result in a slight shift in our perception of color and sharpness.
The same slight blurriness and lack of detail were visible throughout the photo, and all the colors had a somewhat dark, cold tone to them. The combined darkness and blurriness tended to make three-dimensional objects look slightly flattened as well. If you're not a total stickler about your photos, you'll probably be happy with the CP-330's output.
CNET Labs project leader Dong Van Ngo contributed to this section of the review.
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