HiTi 731PS Compact Photo Printer Review
Setup / Drivers and Software
Out of the box* (7.00)*The HiTi 731PS printer comes packaged with paper cassette, LCD controller, AC power cord, quick start guide, and, astonishingly enough, a USB cable—a feat no other printer manufacturer seems capable of achieving. The CD-ROM includes the drivers, software, and electronic user manual. Unfortunately, no paper or ribbon cassettes come with the printer, not even a starter pack.
**Setup*** (8.00)*Printer setup these days is a simple process, and we’ve yet to see a manufacturer that makes it difficult. Dye sublimation printers are even easier to set up than inkjets and lasers, since they only have one cartridge to install. From unpacking to software installation, we were ready to print with the HiTi 731PS in 12 minutes. **Manual / Quick Start Guide*** (3.00)*The documentation for the 731PS is, in a word, atrocious, offering the user only the slimmest of information. We realize these are simple printers with mostly simple functions, but if HiTi wants to capture a larger share of the compact printer market, they have to provide clearer, more detailed, and better translated instructions. Since we were sent an early release model, we only had documentation for the 730 series printers, so we hope improvements are made in the documentation when the 731PS ships. **Drivers and Administration*** (6.00)*As we mentioned before, the documentation, drivers, and other materials included are specifically for the 730 series printers, so there may be changes made when the 731PS is released in October. HiTi also keeps an updated list of drivers on its website. The basic tools are there to make changes to your images before printing. In the Setting tab, users can change the orientation and paper type. HiTi also provides several image adjustments, including sharpness, Auto Optimization (which employs HiTi’s standard image-correction algorithms), and Magic Coating. This last option shows as a checkbox, but when clicked actually opens up a window that gives users choices to add a pattern to this clear overlayer. Options include repeating patterns of zodiac signs and cartoon animals, such as cats, cows, and dragons. The effect is very subtle, so it doesn’t interfere with the image, but one wonders why it’s an option at all since it’s difficult to see. The Tools tab has a print calibration tool, with which users can correct print / paper registration and general color. Users can print out the calibrating sample, which has edge bars to match the print up with the edge of the paper. This is to help prevent the image from printing over the perforated edges of the paper. The number of the particular bar that lines up with the edge can be entered into the driver window and saved for future reference. The Color Preference choice in this tab allows users to set the color for skin tones; included are yellow, black, and white skin tones. The white tone has an option to use the calibration tool to print out nine color variations of the same stock portrait image, from which users can pick the best color and enter that number into the driver. This establishes a color baseline for future prints. Users can also disregard these color settings and use Windows ICM color management or no color preference settings at all. This is helpful if using a program like Photoshop to set color management options.
Since no color profile shipped with the drivers, we downloaded the appropriate profile from the HiTi website.
The Advanced Tools tab contains three options. The Cleaning Tool allows users to clean the printer using HiTi’s special cleaning sheets, which they recommend doing every 100 prints. The Advanced Color Setting tab brings up the Adjustor window, which did not appear fully functional (possibly due to incompatibility issues between the 730 series drivers and the 731PS). This is where users can set brightness, contrast, and color settings. The last selection in the Advanced Tools tab was the Color Chart button, which brings up a window with 10 pages of sample RGB colors that can be printed to match print colors with.
**Software*** (5.50)*Hi-Touch includes the Photo Désirée 2 software for use with the 731PS. This is a fairly simple but useful program. With it, users can print single photos, grouped photos, stickers, bookmarks, and albums. Some editing functions can be accomplished, such as sharpening and color. Text, calendar, clip art, and other images can be added on top of another image. A Special image processing control gives several options to change the overall appearance of an image. Changes include soft focus, monochrome including sepia and black-and-white, and strange solarization or etching-plate-type effects called "carve," pictured below. Users can find a guide to the editing buttons in the software’s help file, accessed through the "?" button. This also gives a step-by-step guide to using the various software functions. This is the best instructional information that HiTi offers, better than the printer manual and driver help file.
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