Last year's Canon Selphy ES1 impressed us with its small footprint and good build quality — two attributes we're pleased to see continued on the company's latest dye-sublimation printer, the Canon Selphy ES2.
There isn't a lot of difference between the Selphy ES2 and its predecessor. The ES2 follows the same upright design, giving the printer a more compact footprint than competing dye-sub offerings which sit horizontally. The dimensions (19.9x17.67x11.33cm) remain the same, as does the 2.1kg heft of the unit — which is surprisingly heavy for its small size. The integrated carry handle aids the printer's mobility, which becomes completely portable with the addition of an optional battery pack.
The colour LCD has grown from 2.5 inches to 3 inches, keeping the tilt-up mechanism for more flexible viewing. While only a small upgrade, we welcome any increase in screen size. The scroll wheel is as fun and flexible to navigate as it was on the ES1, and the controls have been slightly rearranged, but it's more of a cosmetic change than a substantial one.
One design element we're mourning the loss of is the ES1's handy retractable USB cable that reels out like a vacuum cleaner cord and can be retracted with the push of a button. In fact, the Selphy ES2 doesn't come with a USB cable at all. Given that the focus of the printer is on direct printing from memory cards — and the ES2 supports just about all types, perhaps Canon felt that the USB cable is obsolete, or assumed everyone has one lying around these days?
In terms of technical specifications, again there isn't much improvement to speak of. The interface has been redesigned to be more user-friendly, but unfortunately this has not improved the ES1's operating system which we found somewhat sluggish.
Feature-wise, there are a few small additions including new photo effects, frames and clip art selections to add at print time. On-board editing now include Image Optimize and Image Trim functions as well as the My Colors adjustment options found on the ES1. Canon also claims improved red-eye correction, which we found worked well.
The ES1's wireless printing via IrDA and optional Bluetooth also remains, as does a dedicated Creative Print button which allows you to print photos using various layouts including calendars and fun features like speech bubble printing.
It's disappointing to see so few improvements on the ES2, though the success of the ES1 doesn't make it such a crime against innovation. We would have liked to see the DiGiC III processor implemented in hopes of improving the speed of the OS, but considering it uses the same processor as the ES1 the results are very similar; spitting out a standard 4x6in photo in just over a minute.
We also noted the Selphy ES1 for its quiet operation and pleasing image quality which continue with the ES2.
As with the ES1, the integrated paper and ink cartridges mean you can use the ink right down to the last print without wastage. While this can be a positive, it means there is not much chance of squeezing out an extra print in an emergency. This also makes the media quite expensive and negates the flexibility of buying separate ink and paper as you need them.
Priced at AU$299, the ES2 is AU$50* more than the ES1 so you're basically paying for a larger LCD display and a few image editing tweaks. Given the similarities to its predecessor, there is no need for existing ES1 owners to "upgrade" but if the ES1 is any indication, those in the market for a compact photo printer should take a look at the ES2.
*The launch price of the Canon Selphy ES1 was AU$349 but this has since been dropped, we assume to bring it in line with the new model.