Canon IVY 2 Mini Photo Printer Review
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Canon IVY 2 Mini Photo Printer Review

Jun 27, 2023

Zero ink (Zink) portable photo printers don't quite match the image quality of dye-sublimation models, but the output of the original Canon IVY reviewed here in June 2018 was mediocre even compared to its Zink competitors. Canon's new IVY 2 Mini Photo Printer produces better small-format (2-by-3-inch) prints at similarly low running costs, making it a good value, especially with a current discount from $129.99 to $99.99. Our only real complaint about this IVY is that, even with the discount, it lists for $30 more than the Kodak Step Instant Mobile Photo Printer that just copped an Editors' Choice award among Zink smartphone companions.

Instead of ink, Zink photo printers use special paper infused with colors released by the printer's application of heat, producing images in a single pass. Canon says that with proper storage, images from the IVY 2 should last for up to a century. By contrast, dye-sublimation or dye-sub devices like the Polaroid Hi-Print 2x3 Pocket Photo Printer and the Kodak Mini 3 Retro Portable Printer take four passes to lay down cyan, magenta, and yellow ink and a clear coat that helps colors stand out and protects images from dust and fingerprints.

As for the IVY 2 Mini, it comes in two colors, white and pink, as shown below.

As I've pointed out before, the size of these pocket photo machines is determined primarily by the size of their print media. The IVY 2 Mini, for instance, measures 0.8 by 3.3 by 4.7 inches and weighs 5.6 pounds, nearly identical to the previous IVY and close to many competitors. Like many of them, this Canon uses 2-by-3-inch paper, as do the abovementioned Kodak Step and Polaroid Hi-Print, as well as the HP Sprocket (not to be confused with the Sprocket Select, which uses 2.3-by-3.4-inch stock).

All pocket printers require you to load consumables—just paper for Zink printers, paper and an ink cartridge for dye-subs. You load paper into the IVY 2 Mini by sliding its lid back to reveal a media compartment.

Like its predecessor, the IVY 2 Mini holds 10 blank sheets. Printed photos exit via an output slot on the left edge of the machine. On the opposite edge you'll find a USB-C port for charging the printer's battery, a charge-status LED, a reset pinhole, and the power button.

As mentioned, the Canon prints 2-by-3-inch photos with adhesive backs, as well as small circular stickers. (We'll take a closer look at consumables and costs per print in a minute.) Connectivity is limited to the Bluetooth peer-to-peer wireless protocol, and the bundled software supports only iOS or Android handheld devices. Neither this nor the original IVY can connect to a laptop or desktop PC.

You can, however, access several cloud and social media sites, including Facebook, Google Cloud, Instagram, and OneDrive. You pair the IVY 2 Mini to your phone or tablet through the latter's Bluetooth control panel. Print resolution is 313 by 512 dots per inch (dpi), and photos are borderless.

Canon's Mini Print App is a full-featured print driver and photo editing and enhancement program. With it, you can print from your phone's photo album or your favorite cloud and social media sites.

In addition to letting you crop images, correct flaws such as red eye, and adjust contrast and brightness, the app enables you to add text, decorative frames and borders, and other enhancements. A feature unique to the Mini Print App is tiling or joining multiple prints at their edges to create larger images or collages. To compose these larger images, the software simply cuts the image into four or nine 2-by-3-inch pieces that you stick back together after they print.

As I said about the original IVY (which offered only four-tile images) back in 2018, tiling is one feature that helps the Canon stand out from its competitors.

Canon says printing a photo with the IVY 2 Mini takes 50 seconds or less, which is in line with the minute or less taken by nearly every 2-by-3-inch (or thereabouts) pocket photo printer I've tried lately. The first IVY averaged 44 seconds per print, which is actually a little faster than the 48 seconds I averaged with the new model.

Frankly, anything under 60 seconds is fine for this category; 48 seconds is actually relatively quick, though the Kodak Mini 3 Retro wins the race at 43 seconds per print. (I ran my tests from a Samsung Galaxy Note smartphone with the latest version of Android.) It's important to note that many things, including the resolution and size of the image, and the speed of your phone and its Bluetooth connection, can affect a pocket printer's performance.

As mentioned, one of our gripes about the first Canon IVY was that its print quality wasn't up to snuff compared to its rivals at the time. Happily, the IVY 2 Mini delivers brighter and more intense hues, not to mention better color accuracy and improved detail. Zink technology has improved significantly over the past few years; this Canon's image quality, while still not quite as impressive as prints from similarly sized dye-sublimation devices, is comparable to most of its competitors'.

And as I said, the unique tiling feature allows you to create collages, larger images, or both by breaking an image into four or nine pieces. I don't know of another pocket photo printer that can do that.

At this writing, the IVY 2 Mini's discounted price of $99.99 included the printer, a USB Type-A-to-C charging cable, and 10 sheets of 2-by-3-inch, sticky-backed Zink paper. Since the printer hasn't been on the market long, I didn't find many bundles containing additional paper and other scrapbook material such as the Kodak Step offers, though I did find a few bargains. For $12.99, you can get 20 sheets with two round stickers per sheet, and additional 2-by-3-inch media—whether you buy 20, 50, or 100 sheets at $9.99, $24.99, or $49.99 respectively—will cost you 50 cents per photo. Shopping around might save you a few pennies; I found a 50-pack of paper for $22.99 instead of $24.99, for instance.

Our only gripe about the 2018 Canon IVY Mini was that its prints showed understated or somewhat inaccurate colors and fuzzier details versus rivals from HP, Liene, Kodak, and others. When it comes to imaging, it's highly unusual for Canon to miss the mark, even by a little, so it's good to see the IVY 2 Mini catch up to its competitors. That just leaves the issue of the gadget's slightly higher list price, which you may consider is offset by its image-tiling option. Either way, you won't go wrong with the IVY 2 Mini if quick little snap prints from your phone are what you're after.

Canon's improved IVY 2 Mini prints good-looking photos and stickers at competitive running costs, making it an excellent smartphone companion for little on-the-go pics.

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