Editor's note: The Dell Wasabi PZ31 is now available for AU$29 from Dell's online store.
Dell has jumped on the "small is good" bandwagon in a big way. It's pumping out small notebooks and small PCs, so why not tiny printers too? Enter the quirky-named Wasabi, an "ultraportable" mobile printer designed to work with Bluetooth and PictBridge-enabled phones and cameras, as well as the growing range of mini laptops or netbooks.
Wasabi utilises the fairly new Zink technology that was first developed with the assistance of Polaroid in 2007. Zink stands for Zero Ink, meaning there are no ink cartridges to mess with as cyan, yellow and magenta dye crystals are embedded into three layers of special Zink paper that also has a protective polymer coating outside. There is a heating mechanism in the printer that activates the dye crystals to produce the image in the printing process.
Mini printers produce mini prints. You'll only be able to print 2x3-inch borderless colour images. Granted many photos taken on phones aren't of a sufficient quality to warrant large reproductions, but a standard 6x4-inch print size would be more appealing.
Dell claims that it should take less than a minute to print the wallet-sized images. In situations where you're out and about and likely to use this printer that's actually quite a long time to wait for a tiny result.
Offsetting the good news that you don't have to keep shelling out for ink cartridges is the cost of Zink paper. The local pricing for the paper packs has not yet been confirmed, but Dell will sell it online at dell.com.au. As a guideline, pack prices in the US are such that the paper works out to about 35 cents per sheet. Not only is this dearer than most photo papers, but aside from waiting for delivery from an online order, we doubt it will be readily available if you run out on short notice.
And it's nice that it comes in three colours, but are we the only ones who expected Wasabi to come in a shade of pale green? Who ever heard of pink or blue wasabi? Are soy sauce satchels and chop stick chargers likely to follow?
It's a cute idea, but the sushi-sized prints, speed and paper cost could limit Wasabi's appeal. Still, Dell could be the company to speed the development of Zink printing technology to overcome these obstacles. Like it's namesake condiment, Wasabi will probably be best in small doses for those who like it and steadfastly avoided by those who do not.