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Sony Feels Need For Speed With 8-Sec. Print Kiosk



The new high-speed UPDR-150 printer in Sony's PictureStation.

The competitive battle to grab retail locations for kiosks is being ratcheted up by Sony with moves on both the technology and marketing fronts.

The race to deliver dye-sub prints to consumers in ever faster times has been a challenge to the kiosk industry. Slow print output tends to tie up a kiosk, preventing access by the next customer in line as well as frustrating the consumer waiting for his/her prints. Sort of like waiting for a pot of water to boil.

Sony has developed a new, higher-speed printer that is being incorporated into the Sony PictureStation. According to Dave Johnson, senior marketing manager, the new printer will reduce first print output from 23 seconds to about eight seconds for the first 4R and each print thereafter. He claims it is the industry's fastest delivery off a single printer. A 5x7 from this printer takes 15 seconds, a 6x8, 20 seconds.

Others have dealt with the speed problem by incorporating two printers working in tandem. Johnson said that ganging two of Sony's new printers, which can be done, would cut delivery to four seconds a print. By comparison, Kodak's G-3 kiosks, with two model 6800 printers in tandem, output the first print in 11 seconds and each subsequent one in five seconds. Pixel Magic outputs first print in 18 seconds and following prints in 10.5 seconds off one printer and half that time when two printers are ganged. At photokina, Pixel showed a four-printer setup with correspondingly faster output times.

On the marketing side, Sony's major successes to date have been installations in non-photo channel sites such as Kinkos, and with test programs underway at the convenience chain, 7-Eleven, and Michaels Art Supply stores. In an effort to penetrate traditional photo channels, where many dealers already have kiosks, Sony is offering a rebate of $3,000 for the trade-in of a kiosk toward the purchase of a deluxe Sony PictureStation.

Dave Johnson said Sony will accept any kiosk as a trade-in, regardless of age or brand. The traded kiosks will be physically returned to Sony and taken out of service, according to Johnson. He would not reveal the budget provided for the rebate program.

The program could pose a threat to older dye-sub kiosk installations where units may not have the latest innovations of speed, media configuration and software. Kiosks that are directly connected to minilabs would not be vulnerable.

The $3,000 rebate would effectively discount the price of the deluxe PictureStation from $13,995 to $10,995.

The PictureStation, with the new UPDR-150 printer, and the rebate program were scheduled to be introduced at the Fall PMA show, according to Johnson who was interviewed for this article two weeks prior to the late October event.

The speeded-up PictureStation will be available for shipment about the first of the year, according to Johnson, and will retain its previous list price level of $13,995. The deluxe system includes two of the new printers, which use roll paper, and a sheet fed 8x10 printer. Also, included is a faster CPU and a monitor screen increase from 13- to 15-inch. An upgrade kit for existing field units will be available but Johnson said the price has not yet been determined.

For locations that may be interested in outputting 4x6 prints only, Sony is expanding its line with a kiosk equipped only with two of the new printers for $10,995.

Johnson stated that dye-sub paper rolls for 4R size have been lengthened to yield 540 prints per roll instead of the previous count of 350. Paper is available in glossy, matte or textured finishes. By comparison, a Kodak roll will yield about 750 4R's, and Pixel Magic about 400.

New PictureStation software has been designed to take advantage of the versatility of having three printers on board. Johnson said that a retailer will be able to make up his own package of prints from either a single or multiple images to make up a promotional offering. For example, the touch of one button could produce a pre-determined mix of wallets, 4R, 5X and 8X at a promotional price.

Sony Closes New Deals With Kinkos and Druggist

Sony has concluded two new significant business deals, according to Dave Johnson, senior marketing manager:

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PTN Dailes HERE