Dell Launches the Ultra-Mobile Wasabi Printer

If you are old enough to remember Polaroid's instant cameras, then the concept behind Dell's new Wasabi PZ310 "ultra-mobile printer" will look very familiar to you. The Wasabi is a small printer that fits in the palm of your hand that can print color photos in less than a minute from digital cameras, mobile phones, and other mobile devices.

The Wasabi uses a printing technology called ZINK, which stands for "Zero Ink." As its name implies there is no ink involved in the printing process, and therefore no potentially messy and costly ink cartridges to replace:

"At the heart of the ZINK Technology is the patented ZINK Paper, an advanced composite material with cyan, yellow, and magenta dye crystals embedded inside, and a protective polymer overcoat layer outside. The crystals are colorless before printing, so ZINK Paper looks like regular white photo paper. Heat from a ZINK-enabled device activates the crystals, forming all the colors of the rainbow."

Wasabi measures 0.9x4.8x2.8-inches (HWD), weighs just 8-ounces with the 450mAh Li-ion battery (the battery is rated for 15 prints per charge), and comes in three different colors: black, pink, and blue. The Wasabi can hold up to 12 sheets of paper at a time and prints 2x3-inch, borderless prints in 55 seconds. The paper has a sticky backing so it can be attached to different surfaces.

Photos can be sent to the Wasabi one of two ways: Either using a standard PictBridge USB Type A connection or wirelessly via Bluetooth. This does not mean, however, than any Bluetooth device will be able to print to the Wasabi--especially mobile phones. A list of compatible mobile phones can be found here. Unfortunately, neither the iPhone nor iPhone 3G are compatible with the Wasabi; but the Blackberry Curve and Motorola RAZR V3 are.

If you clicked on the mobile phone compatibility link in the above paragraph, you would have noticed that the link took you to a page on Polaroid's Website that shows which mobile phones are compatible with Polaroid's PoGo products. Both Polaroid and Dell license the ZINK technology from ZINK Imaging (as does Takara Tomy in Japan). In fact, Dell is not the first to have a ZINK product on the market in the U.S.; Polaroid's PoGo CZA-10011B Instant Mobile Printer ($95 Street) actually came out last year. Additionally, Polaroid has announced the Polaroid PoGo Instant Digital Camera, which packs a 5-megapixel digital camera and an integrated ZINK printer into a single unit. The PoGo camera is due to start shipping in March and will sell for $199 (MSRP).

The Wasabi is shipping now, and while it will eventually retail for $149 (direct), Dell has a special launch promotion where it is currently selling the Wasabi for only $99. Dell also sells additional photo paper for the Wasabi in pack of 24 sheets ($9) and 48 sheets ($16). If you think you are going to do a lot of printing, you also might want to consider investing in an extra battery ($35).
Tags:  Dell, Mobile, Printers