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Kiosks, Output Solutions - Highlight PMA 2004



Kiosks, Output Solutions

Highlight PMA 2004

by Bill Schiffner

It’s clear that the balance of power has shifted from the retailer to the consumer when it comes to producing digital prints. To stay competitive, retailers must focus on what’s really important to consumers and deliver those things. As consumers continue to shift to digital, the greatest challenge for our industry has been making their prints at retail. But numbers are starting to show an upswing: PMA projects that 5.4 billion prints will be made from digital images during 2004, up from 3.4 billion in 2003. They also report that by 2006, 10.6 billion digital prints are projected annually. During 2004, more than one-third of digital prints are projected to be made at retail outlets, and in two years, retailers are predicted to make 60 percent of digital prints!

So now more than ever, products are being designed to make it easier for digital camera users to come in and make prints at retail. The demographics of the digital market are changing. The early adopters to digital cameras were men who were intrigued by the technology. That profile has shifted from men to mothers of young children—the soccer mom. The soccer mom is continuing to drive the digital category. Manufacturers and retailers must direct their strategies to the wants and needs of the soccer mom, as well as college and high school students –our next generation of snapshooters.

PMA 2004 featured a slew of exhibitors, many who displayed their latest digital imaging wares, partnerships and retail solutions, including a host of self-service digital kiosks, digital minilabs and other output devices. A host of kiosks were on display, most with software upgrades to improve kiosk performance, and many incorporating Bluetooth and infrared technologies to receive digital pictures beamed directly from digital camera phones. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the hot products that were featured at the show.

Agfa (www.agfa.com) showed a new version of its Image Box kiosk, the Mobile Imaging Kiosk, capable of printing images from both digital cameras and camera phones (via a Bluetooth or infrared connection). Retailers can install the Image Box as a tabletop version, connected directly to the Image Print.300 thermal sublimation printer, or place the kiosk and printer on a stand to accommodate additional system components, such as a receipt printer or scanner. In addition to instant dye-sub prints, digital image files can be processed like a regular print order through their d-lab digital minilab series. Agfa also had on hand its Image Cube, transferring images by way of a CD-ROM, which is sent to the central lab in an order envelope just like a roll of film. The Image Cube reads all common data media, including CompactFlash, SmartMedia, Memory Stick and SD cards. The unit saves the image data on a CD-ROM, which is returned to the consumer as an image archive, along with the prints and an index print.

In the minilab area, Agfa showed the d-lab.1 minilab. The d-lab.1 gives users all-in-one access to the comprehensive range of services of modern on-site processing: print production from analog or digital images, including film processing, scanning and printing from film, printing from digital data and recording of images on CD. First units have already been shipped. Optimum print quality for the d-lab.1 is automatically guaranteed by the new Agfa MDDM (Micro Dot Display Multiplexing) printing technology and Agfa’s tried-and-tested d-TFS (digital Total Film Scanning). The d-lab.1 is the first minilab to feature the new MDDM printing technology. The light comes from three LEDs.

Anytime Images
(www.anytimeimages.com) introduced a digital print kiosk that can be set up for self-service, behind the counter, and for Web-based digital photo processing. Customers can choose to make dye-sub prints from their images, burn files to a CD, and order personalized novelty items. The kiosk also provides the ability to remove red-eye, add borders and text, and print black-and-white or sepia prints.

DigitalPortal’s Symphonia prints photos from digital media or saves them to CD-ROM.

DigitalPortal (www.digitalportalinc.com) announced two new self-service kiosks: the Symphonia thermal self-service digital photo kiosk, and the Opera II silver halide self-service digital photo kiosk.

The Symphonia prints photos from digital media or saves them to CD-ROM. Flexible and versatile, Symphonia is designed for stand-alone locations as well as traditional minilabs and photo stores. The unit prints high-quality, 692-dpi prints at up to eight prints per minute with two printers. It accepts digital inputs from the most common digital media formats and now includes wireless connectivity via Bluetooth and infrared. Print sizes include 3.5 x 5 and/or 4 x 6.

The Opera II provides consumers with an economical means of producing real photographic prints from their digital cameras. It takes just a few minutes to print: The first print appears in two minutes and 3 seconds, and another print emerges every 14 seconds. Operated by the customer and featuring a coin and bill accepter, the Opera II produces unrivaled quality digital with an exclusive LCD booster exposure system. The kiosk accepts digital inputs from the most common digital media formats and now includes wireless connectivity via Bluetooth and infrared.

DigitalPortal also announced that it would participate in this year’s DIMA Digital Minilab Makeover Tour. The tour is scheduled to visit 10 major cities throughout the year. DigitalPortal will be featuring its new DKS 1550 digital minilab, which will be available and operating during the training seminars and tour.

"The focus of the show is to educate retailers on how to grow their digital business and how to integrate all of the various aspects of digital photo products into a manageable and profitable business," said Mark Lawrence of DigitalPortal. "The goal is to show people how versatile and powerful its DKS equipment is and can be for retailers working to expand and integrate their digital photo business offerings."

Fujifilm’s DPCE is a good fit for retailers who want the benefit of a second or third kiosk option to handle increased orders and manage traffic flow.

Fujifilm (www.fujifilm.com) unveiled its new Digital Photo Center Express (DPCE), a very compact digital camera developing print solution for retailers seeking additional kiosk capacity and improved traffic flow at a reasonable price point. The DPCE is a good fit for retailers who want the benefit of a second or third kiosk option to handle increased orders and manage traffic flow. This unique kiosk will be wireless-enabled for fall shipment dates in order to make prints from Bluetooth and infrared sources; it also provides additional workflow capabilities by increasing the number of images viewed onscreen at a given time.

The DPCE offers professional-quality prints that can be easily and quickly ordered from a unique screen, which offers previews of up to three images at a time. The countertop kiosk allows users to print select images or to print all. No editing features are offered on the DPCE in order to maintain a high traffic flow for retailers during the ordering process. The DPCE reads input from most media and from CDs, as well as from Bluetooth and infrared sources.

Fujifilm announced two new additions to its groundbreaking Frontier digital minilab product line. The Frontier 355 and 375 offer state-of-the-art scanners that eliminate scratches and dust defects while providing easy-to-use icon-based interfaces, automatic red-eye reduction software, 135/IX240 automatic film carriers for simplified film loading, and, most importantly, the overall best print quality the market expects from Fujifilm. The models continue to provide high-volume efficiencies for retailers. The Frontier 355 can generate approximately 1,050 4 x 6 prints per hour, while the Frontier 375 generates up to 1,450 4 x 6 prints per hour.

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