The even smaller sibling of the Kodak Mini 3 Retro, a portable printer that won an Editors’ Choice award in these digital pages last month, Kodak’s Mini 2 Retro Portable Photo Printer ($141.99) produces miniature business-card-size (2.1-by- 3.4-inch) snapshots instead of 3-by-3-inch squares. Like the Mini 3, the Mini 2 churns out good-looking images, though its prints are only about half the size of the 4-by-6-inch photos produced by Canon’s Selphy CP1300 (another PCMag favorite) and HP’s Sprocket Studio. Like the HP and Canon, the two Kodaks use superior dye-sublimation (often called “dye-sub”) printing technology instead of the zero-ink (Zink) process of some competitors. The Mini 2 Retro’s photos are not only attractive but quick and inexpensive, making it a good fit for saving photos from your smartphone if you don’t mind the prints’ diminutive size.
Pick a Color and Pocket It
Like the Mini 3 Retro, the Mini 2 Retro comes in your choice of white, black, or yellow, and in one of two bundles—the $141.99 kit (reviewed here), with enough ink and paper for 68 prints, or a $129.99 starter with enough consumables for only eight photos.
Pick white, yellow, or black.
The Mini 2 Retro measures 1 by 5.1 by 3.2 inches (HWD) and weighs just over half a pound. Its operation and feature set match those of the Mini 3, with printed photos emerging from a slot on the left edge and a micro-USB port on the back edge for charging.
The Mini 2 Retro printer is truly pocket-size.
Since its prints are much smaller, it’s no surprise that the Kodak printer is more compact than its dye-sub rivals, the Canon Selphy CP1300 and the HP Sprocket Studio. It uses cartridges containing four inks—cyan, magenta, yellow, and a clear coat—and sheets of photo paper. The clear coat enhances colors and protects images from finger smudges and dust.
Cartridges containing both ink and photo paper slide into a hatch at the bottom of the device.
The printing process involves four passes, applying each of the inks in turn. By contrast, single-pass Zink printers like the HP Sprocket Select use special paper coated with color crystals that are activated by the printer’s selective application of heat. According to Kodak, images from the Mini 2 Retro should last for up to a century if handled carefully.
The dye-sub print process makes four passes to apply colors and a clear coat.
Bluetooth Connectivity and Printer App
The Mini 2 Retro’s software supports Android and iOS mobile devices—in other words, smartphones—though tablets will work too. Like many of today’s photo printer apps, Kodak’s is meant strictly for handhelds and doesn’t support Windows or macOS laptops or desktops. You start by pairing the printer to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth, then downloading and installing the Kodak Photo Printer app that lets you edit and print photos from your phone’s storage or your favorite cloud site.
Photos exit the device via a slot on the left edge.
Bluetooth is the only connectivity choice; the micro-USB port is just for charging. Kodak says the onboard battery recharges fully in about an hour and a half, and that a charge lasts long enough to churn out about 25 prints.
Replacement cartridges are available in packs of 60 prints (Kodak part number ICRG-230X2). To change cartridges, you open the compartment door, slide out the used cartridge, and slide in the replacement.
The Mini 2 Retro and its 3-by-3-inch sibling are the only portable photo printers I know that offer both bordered and borderless images, as shown below. The “Retro” part of the name refers to the look of the bordered prints.
For that old-time drugstore look, you can opt for bordered (right) instead of borderless prints.
It’s generally a given in the professional photography and document-design fields that borderless (also called “full-bleed”) images look more finished or professional. Bordered photos are, however, handy for some applications, and having the choice increases the Kodak printers’ versatility.
Testing the Mini Retro 2: Dye-Sub Speed, Excellent Quality
Kodak rates the Mini 2 Retro at 1 photo per minute (ppm), but technically that could mean anything over 30 seconds per image. My average print times were in the ballpark of 40 seconds for bordered and 45 seconds for borderless photos. The former’s margin around all four sides of each image is a bit under a quarter of an inch.
A side-by-side look at bordered and borderless images.
Like the Mini 3 Retro, the Mini 2 Retro is faster than many competing portable photo printers, but again, it should be, as its output size is relatively puny. Among 4-by-6-inch printers, I timed the HP Sprocket Studio at an average of 2 minutes and 5 seconds per print, and the Canon Selphy CP1300 at a faster 1 minute and 2 seconds (over Wi-Fi). The Sprocket Select’s 2.3-by-3.4-inch prints took about 1 minute and 16 seconds each.
Print speed, within reason, isn’t really an issue for these little devices. Output quality, on the other hand, is essential, and the Mini 2 Retro joins its 3-inch-square sibling in producing excellent images. Colors are vibrant and accurate, and detail is quite respectable, considering how small these prints are.
Stock Up for Savings
After you use up the 68 prints in the starter kit, a replacement 60-pack of paper and ink costs $19.99, which comes out to about 33 cents for each small photo. (According to Kodak’s website, the regular price for a refill is $44.99, or 75 cents per image, but the $19.99 sale price has been around for some time, and a Kodak rep told me it’ll be active for a while longer.)
A cost per print (CPP) of 33 cents is about as low as it gets for this kind of printer. The Mini 3 Retro’s operating costs are similar, as are the Canon Selphy CP1300’s (each at about 35 cents per print). The 4-by-6-inch, dye-sub HP Sprocket Studio’s photos run about 44 cents each, with the Canon IVY Mini’s 2-by-3-inch prints costing about half a dollar. The Lifeprint 3×4.5 Hyperphoto’s prints appear animated when viewed through a special app, but can cost as much as $1.25 per photo.
All told, the Kodak Mini 2 Retro delivers great-looking photos relatively quickly and inexpensively (so long as the sale price holds for the cartridges). The only real complaints are that it’s strictly for smartphones instead of Windows PCs or Macs, and that it doesn’t support Wi-Fi, only Bluetooth. But the same can be said of several other pocket-size photo printers. The Mini 3 Retro’s slightly larger, Instagram-friendly square prints give it an Editors’ Choice-award edge, but this Kodak is a fine pick for wallet-size photos.
Kodak Mini 2 Retro Portable Photo Printer
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