Sony pronounces 2001 the year of the printer

By Kuriko Miyake, IDG News Service |  Hardware

In another of Sony Corp.'s sales initiatives with a catchy phrase, the company has decided that 2001 is the year of the printer. "Print by Sony" kicked off Tuesday with a new line of photo printers for consumers and professional users in an initiative the Tokyo-based company hopes will make it a leader in the photo printer market.

The DPP-SV88 and the DPP-SV77 are digital photo printers for consumer use. The former has a CD-R/RW (CD Recordable/Rewritable) drive, the first time such a feature has been offered on a printer according to Sony. It allows users to store recorded images downloaded from digital cameras onto CDs, instead of keeping them on a PC hard drive. Additionally, the printer can be connected to a television monitor and operated by a remote control.

The second consumer printer has a 3.2-inch touch panel STN (super twisted nematic) LCD (liquid crystal display) monitor on top so that a user can, prior to printing, manipulate images or even have fun scribbling on them with the built-in Creative Point software. Like all the models announced Tuesday, no PC is needed.

Both the consumer products are not only equipped with a slot for Sony's Memory Stick memory card but also a PC card, Smart Media and Compact Flash slots. A USB (universal serial bus) port allows them to be hooked up to a PC, and image capture software can grab images from video.

The print quality of both printers is 403 x 403 dpi (dots per inch). To print a postcard size picture, it takes about 90 seconds, according to Sony.

The DPP-SV88 will go on sale in Japan on Aug. 1 and be priced at about 80,000 yen (US$667) while the DPP-SV77 will be available earlier, on July 10, and be less expensive at 60,000 yen. The company is planning to sell both printers in the rest of the world within this year.

For the professional and photo printing shop market, Sony announced its system controller UPA-PC120 and digital color printer UP-DR100. The former reads an image directly from either Memory Stick, Compact Flash, Smart Media, PC cards, CD-R or Floppy and displays it on its 12.1- inch TFT (thin film transistor) LCD. The display features a touch panel, like the consumer models, and Sony's original GUI (graphical user interface).

It takes 34 seconds for the UP-DR100 to print out a 127 x 178 millimeter picture, the largest it can print, after the image is processed by the controller. The print resolution is 334 dpi.

The company will start a worldwide trial in July and it plans to put the products on sale in October at a price of about 1.2 million yen for the set. Sony hopes to install 3,000 units at locations such as supermarkets and photo developing stores in its first year in Japan. Shipments to North America and to Europe are also planned around October while the schedule for shipments to other Asian countries will be decided after the trial, said to the company.

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