Canon SELPHY CP790 Performance

July 24, 2009 by Sarah Meyer Reads (16,669)


Setting up the CP790
The initial setup for a portable printer like the CP790 is as easy as plugging it in and turning it on.  If you plan on printing from a computer, however, you will need to download the CP790 driver provided on the CD-ROM.  This took less than five minutes and was relatively easy thanks to Canon’s installation wizard.

For use with a computer, users will need to purchase a USB cable since one isn’t provided.

Ease of use
Much like the setup, using the CP790 is a snap.  Seriously, they don’t make them much easier to use.  The buttons on the printer are big, colorful and well labeled and the easy scroll wheel makes navigating the menus a breeze (if you aren’t a scroll wheel kind of person, you can also navigate menus using the directional arrow keys).

The CP790 has a 3-inch color LCD for editing and viewing photos before printing as well as an auto play function for displaying photos via a slideshow.

Menu settings include several options: photo projects, auto play, change settings and a print all feature. The photo projects allow users to add 12 colorful frames, print pocket size calendars, and create photo diaries with individual photos and stamps.

Print settings and printer setup can be accessed through the change settings option.  A few sample options include: making images borderless, changing the page layout and automatic power down to reduce energy consumption.

Hitting the Edit button on the CP790 will allow users to trim photos, change the page layout, jump through images and add the info display.

Print tests
On average, the SELPHY CP790 printed a borderless 4×6 image in about 49 seconds.  Even when adding photo frames to an image or printing a calendar print, the speed stayed right around 49 seconds.  I never found it took more than a minute to produce a 4×6 image so that was a positive.

The photo quality on the CP790 was great when it comes to dye sublimation printers and thanks to the extra clear coat, the photos will last much longer than traditional inkjet photos.   The colors were bright and the images were sharp although there was some fuzziness in high contrast and out of focus areas but overall you’ll find that the CP790 prints photo lab quality images almost every time.

Also, I did want to warn users planning on using the CP790 with a computer; make sure you check the image size before you print.  Often, if you aren’t printing the original image taken from a digital camera, somewhere along the way the image size was probably reduced.  The photo will look totally normal on a computer screen but will come out fuzzy or pixilated.  When using a memory card taken directly from a digital camera or the PictBridge function, users shouldn’t find too many pixilated images.

That warning is especially important when you take into account the cost of the paper and ink cassettes for the CP790.  A refill box that should give users 108 prints costs $29.99 on the Canon website; this averages out to about 27 cents per print.  Compared to most discount photo labs on the market today – Wal-Mart, Walgreens, or even local grocery stores – this seems a bit pricey.  Of course, Canon can make the argument that with the SELPHY CP790 images you are getting more than just photos; you can edit, decorate, print and view photos instantly from almost any location.

When reviewing the SELPHY CP790, it was kept mostly indoors where it could be plugged into a wall socket but there is an optional battery – the NB-CP2L – available on the Canon website for $79.99.  Having the battery would make the CP790 truly portable.

There is also an optional Bluetooth adapter for those wireless nuts out there; it can also be found on the Canon website for $49.99.


  • Great portable design
  • 3-inch LCD
  • Good image quality


  • Expensive
  • No USB cable provided

I’m not going to lie, I loved the SELPHY CP790.  I may be a bit of a cornball but I liked the design, the color, the fun control panel and LCD, and even the slightly kitschy “creative prints.”

The only real problem I could find with the SELPHY CP790 – the slightly high initial cost and the expensive refill kits – might be a deal breaker for some.  At $179.99 for the printer and $30 for each 108 print refill kit, some families might find the CP790 out of their price range in this economy.  Or they may go with an equally expensive all-in-one inkjet printer they can get more use out of day to day.  This is such a shame because I had such a blast reviewing the “lime green dream!”

The Canon SELPHY CP790 is expected to be available later this month for the estimated retail price of $179.99.

Supplies and accessories such as the refill kits, optional battery and Bluetooth adapater are available on the Canon website.



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