There's a lot to be said for the spontaneity of being able to print out a photo you've just taken. Here are some creative options for printing and sharing your snaps.
Canon Selphy CP800
Canon has two types of dedicated photo printer: the neater and sleeker of the two is the Selphy CP800. We look at the Selphy ES40 below. What's great about this £99 home photo lab is that it comes with image-optimising software; since part of the appeal of home printers is that they cut out the need to transfer shots to your PC before sending to print, onboard editing is a real boon.
Canon provides a tiltable 2.5in LCD screen to preview shots, each of which takes 45 seconds to appear. You can print several shots on a single 6x4in sheet of paper.
• £99 inc VAT
This 7in-screen digital photo frame does more than simply show off a slideshow of your favourite photos and set it to music. It can also connect to your Facebook or Flickr account and display photos hosted there. With a built-in Wi-Fi connection, you can even use the Pulse to send photos from a social-media site or over email to a friend's similarly equipped digital photo frame.
We'd prefer the supported resolution not to top out at 800x600 pixels, but the concept is great and we hope other manufacturers come up with similar innovations.
• £85 inc VAT
Polaroid instant photo prints were hero products of our youth, so we were delighted to find the concept revived with the updated Polaroid Instant 300 camera range. But Polaroid also offers easy printing of photos taken on other cameras – just attach your camera to the PoGo via USB (cable not supplied) and it will produce a 3x2in photo. Ideal for teens, the prints are sticky-backed so they can be used to customise a schoolbook or other personal item.
The PoGo printer comes with a roll of 10 sticky-back sheets, so warn the lucky recipient that they'll have to think carefully about which photos they really want to print.
• £39 inc VAT
• Polaroid PoGo Instant Digital Camera review
Canon Selphy ES40
A quirkier take on home photo printing is provided by the Selphy ES40: a finger-friendly model that has voice guidance to help young or technology-shy users through menus and selection options to ensure they end up with the photo they want.
For example, there's a warning if the paper isn't inserted straight, or if the printer has run out of paper. Photos are automatically optimised, with red-eye and colour balance adjustments made prior to printing. An enlarged 3.5in screen and large buttons make it easy to preview images or even use the device as a mini photo gallery.
A slideshow mode is included.
• £139 inc VAT
Album Portable Digital Photo Frame
Smartphones are handy when showing off your photo collection on the move. But sometimes it's nice to display them on a larger screen, especially if you're visiting an elderly relative or showing them to a group – and not everyone can afford an Apple iPad. The 7in-screen Album Portable Digital Photo Frame has a generous 4GB of internal memory and can also accept SD media cards up to 16GB.
The resolution is a less-than-stellar 800x480 pixels, but this is still a pretty good display for the price. The battery should last around three hours and both video and photos can be shown off. The device even has its own sturdy two-tone protective case.
• £119 inc VAT
Christmas gift guide index:
- Christmas 2010 buyers' guide: all-in-one PCs
- Christmas 2010 buyers' guide: laptops
- Christmas 2010 buyers' guide: cameras
- Christmas 2010 buyers' guide: satnavs and GPS
- Christmas 2010 buyers' guide: photo printers
- Christmas 2010 buyers' guide: media players
- Christmas 2010 buyers' guide: audio accessories
- Christmas 2010 buyers' guide: keyboards & mice
- Christmas 2010 buyers' guide: gaming kit