Canon Selphy CP1500 Wireless Compact Photo Printer Review
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Canon Selphy CP1500 Wireless Compact Photo Printer Review

Nov 28, 2023

Many of today's portable or pocket photo printers are capable of churning out only one print size, be it 2-by-2-inch mini-prints or 4-by-6-inch snapshots. Canon's $139.99 Selphy CP1500 Wireless Compact Photo Printer—the fourth iteration of the Selphy CP series we've seen since March 2014—can (with an inexpensive optional adapter) deliver up to four different sizes, some with adhesive backing and some without. Like its Editors' Choice award-winning predecessors the CP1200 and CP1300, the Selphy CP1500 is relatively fast and produces high-quality prints at very competitive running costs, letting it claim the series' third consecutive pick as our favorite compact photo printer.

I don't know why Canon skipped the model number "CP1400," but this year's Selphy definitely brings plenty of new and improved features, which we'll detail in a minute. First, let's talk about the printer's overall design. In the U.S. it's available in either black or white...

It's also available in other parts of the world in pink. (The CP1300 was available in all three colors everywhere.) And while the CP1500's size and heft—2.5 by 7 by 5.4 inches (HWD) and 2.5 pounds loaded with paper and ink—is nearly identical, the old and new models don't much resemble one another.

An optional $90 battery that the company rates for roughly 54 prints on a charge adds another 0.6 pound, bringing the printer to just over 3 pounds not counting its AC adapter and power cord.

The control panel consists of a few buttons—Menu, Back, OK (Enter), and Power—anchored by a 3.5-inch LCD touch screen (a bit bigger than the 3.2-inch display of the CP1300). Navigation is performed via a four-way pad with the OK button in the middle, but the rest of the button array has been helpfully trimmed from eight to just three.

Competing 4-by-6-inch dye-sublimation compact photo printers (commonly called dye-subs) include the HP Sprocket Studio, the Kodak Photo Printer Dock, the Liene 4x6 Instant Photo Printer, and the Kodak Mini 3 Retro (3x3) Portable Printer. All of their control panels are bare-bones compared with the handy controls of the Selphy CP series.

The primary reason for the onboard controls is that, as we'll explain in the next section, this Selphy can print from several flavors of USB and SD flash memory devices. The dye-sub dry ink cartridge loads into a compartment located on the right side of the printer.

Photo paper (about 18 sheets) loads into a detachable tray that slides into the front of the printer, and finished prints land on top of the input tray.

Out of the box, the CP1500 prints 4-by-6-inch postcard photos. For $13 you can buy an additional paper cassette that adds three more print-size choices: L size (3.5 by 4.7 inches), card size (2.1 by 3.4 inches), and square label (2.1 by 2.1 inches). Media for each of these three sizes (but not the 4-by-6-inch stock) is available with or without sticky (adhesive) backing.

The bundled software lets you not only specify print size but provides templates for creating collages and other layouts from the images on your smartphone, favorite cloud sites, or both.

Finally, as mentioned, the Selphy is a dye-sub printer. Unlike Zink (zero-ink) portable photo printers that use special paper infused with colors released by applying heat and produce images in one relatively swift pass, the CP1500 makes four passes. The first three passes lay down cyan, magenta, and yellow ink, and the last applies a clear coat that protects the image from fingerprints and dust and helps colors pop. Canon claims that with proper storage, images from the Selphy should last for a century.

The CP1500's standard interfaces consist of USB 2.0, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi, and Apple AirPrint, as well as ports for USB-C (not USB-A) flash drives and SD and microSD flash cards. The SD card slot is located in the upper left corner of the compartment that holds the paper cassette, while the USB-C port is on the rear of the chassis.

You can also print from a couple of mobile device apps, Canon Print/Inkjet Selphy and Canon Selphy Layout 3.0. The first is a basic driver for printing from a number of iOS or Android apps, while Selphy Layout lets you perform all sorts of edits, corrections, and enhancements, such as applying filters, overlaying text, or using frames, banners, and collages.

The latest version lets you choose a glossy, semi-gloss, or satin final finish or print patterns into the overcoat layer that give your images a subtle appearance of texture. You can also embed QR codes into your prints that will send the viewer to a specified URL when scanned by a smartphone or tablet camera.

Canon says that postcard-size (4-by-6-inch) prints from the Selphy CP1500 take about 41 seconds and credit-card-size (2.1-by-3.4-inch) photos about 23 seconds. That's on the fast side of average; even most full-blown, photo-centric desktop inkjet printers aren't quite as fast to produce 4-by-6 prints. (The Canon Pixma G620, for example, takes about 46 seconds.)

Since the Selphy doesn't ship with Windows software (though you can print to it from most Windows programs, as you would any other printer), I skipped our Windows testbed PC in favor of printing our test images wirelessly from a Samsung Galaxy Note smartphone running the latest version of Android and the Canon Print/Inkjet Selphy app. (I also printed a few postcard-size photos from thumb drives and SD cards, which take an average of 38 seconds each.)

Both the older Selphy CP1300 and the 2022 Liene 4x6 printer crank out the same photos in about a minute apiece. The HP Sprocket Studio Plus took a dismal 2 minutes and 5 seconds (though that was in 2019; odds are that HP has updated its firmware and software since then). The Kodak Mini 3 churns out its borderless 3-by-3-inch images in 43 seconds each, while that company's 2017 Photo Printer Dock takes nearly two minutes. Bottom line: The Selphy CP1500 is one of the fastest compact photo printers around.

As for print quality, while I'm not wild about the thin, somewhat flimsy feel of Canon's photo paper for this unit (it's certainly not postcard stock), the results are uniformly excellent. Colors come out bright and accurate, with true-blue skies and oceans, and realistic-looking skin tones. Detail is fine, with no noticeable graininess even in areas with relatively light ink coverage.

Please note, however, that these assessments are based on comparisons between comparable portable photo printers. Even dye-sub compacts fall short of the brilliantly colored and highly detailed snapshots seen from a five- or six-ink photo-optimized desktop printer such as the abovementioned Canon Pixma G620 or the Epson Expression Photo XP-8700. Of course, desktop inkjets usually cost more, are much bigger, and they can't print three different sizes of stickers, nor are they nearly as easy to carry around, set up, and use.

While shopping for consumables for the Selphy CP1500, I found a variety of bundles and deals. Consumables come in packages containing both paper and dye-sub dry ink cartridges. A pack good for 108 postcard-size prints sells on Canon's site for $35.99 (about 33 cents per photo), with smaller packs costing a few pennies more per print.

You can find bargains on 4-by-6-inch consumables; I noticed bundles on both Amazon and eBay, for instance a four-pack of Canon's abovementioned RP-108 kit (432 total prints) for $124.99, which brings the price down to about 29 cents per photo. The smaller sizes aren't as good deals, especially sticker media. A pack of 18 card-size (2.1-by-3.4-inch) stickers will cost you about 83 cents per print on Canon's site.

By comparison, prints from the Liene 4x6 will set you back about 50 cents each, and the HP Sprocket Studio and Kodak Photo Dock about 44 and 39 cents respectively. The Kodak Mini's 3-inch-square prints are about 30 cents apiece. That makes the CP1500 one of the least expensive 4-by-6-inch photo printers.

Canon easily claims another Editors' Choice award for the Selphy CP1500. The new printer offers a whole host of enhancement and embellishment features that make it stand out from the pack, as do its relatively low price and highly competitive cost of consumables. Like its predecessors, this Selphy is an affordable way to turn your family's phone images into good-looking photos and stickers.

Canon's Selphy CP1500 cranks out quick, high-quality dye-sub snapshots, with operating costs low enough to make its optional battery and sticker-paper adapter reasonable add-ons.

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