Alps has come out with a number of quality products at a fair price. Unfortunately, Alps printers are overwhelmed by the massive public relations and advertising campaign of Epson.

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Dye Sublimation Printing: High Quality Photo-realistic Color at a reasonable Price

alps printer
The picture here is the Alps dye-sub. The color and the quality of the image was appreciably superior to non-dye sub mode. This is sort of the difference between other dual mode printers, such as dye sub-thermal wax transfer printers, like the Seiko. The dye sub is always superior. Alps rates their printer at 600 dpi; virtually all other dye sub printers which cost horrendously more are rated at 300 dpi.

The reports on the Epson models are so glowing it is hard to get a word in edgewise for Alps. Before you got lulled int o buying an Epson, however, be sure to read the warning about severe guaranteed fading of ink jet color. We have been told that Alps no longer sells in the USA.

Nonetheless, we believe that Alps deserves equal air time. The Alps MD-2300 sounds like a wonderful machine, capable of producing continuous tone images in near-photographic quality. The next printer up in quality is a Kodak dye-sub 8650 series which costs $8000 and up. The Alps costs less than 10% of that. Alps has another model, the 1300, and it is even more cost effective, about $500 (prices vary faster than we can update the information).

Most dye sub printers really hog desktop real estate. Our digital imaging technology center is already overfilled with equipment, so it was a relief to find out that the Alps had such a reasonable footprint.

Alps now has a new model, the MD-5000, with 2400 dpi photo quality. If you want their dye sub, although both models can do dye sub, the results are better with the 1300. If you do not need dye sub, then the MD-5000 is the newer model.

Wow, a dye sub print from a printer that only costs $500! Now here is a cost effective way to achieve dye sub quality without spending more than is necessary.

dye sub  printer (jpeg)
Nicholas Hellmuth holding an ALPS dye-sub print

While I was a Visiting Professor in Japan at the National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, I had an opportunity to use the Kodak dye sub as well as the Seiko dye sub and thermal wax machines. The Epson 1520 ink jet printer we recently acquired has produced streaks and banding, a constant problem with color printers in general.

It could take up to 10 minutes to print a single page with the Epson. Worse, the printer frequently failed to print the photographs, and printed only digital gibberish. This is because you are forced to clear the entire system any time a minor printing error occurs.

Since each sheet of paper cost about $1, and the Epson demanded another dollars worth of ink (per each page) you can throw away a lot of money quickly if you are stuck with an Epson ink jet printer. We demanded our money back from Epson even though the 30-day grace period was long gone.

Someone recently indicated that Alps-Electric USA had gone out of business. I do not have confirmation of this yet.

If someone handed me a batch of dye sub prints, from dye sub printers costing $8,000, I would have a hard time telling the difference between the Alps dye sub and the Kodak dye sub. Of course the main difference is that the Alps costs about $500, substantially less than $8,000!

dye sub print (jpeg)
Close-up of ALPS dye-sub print
Hopefully the Alps products will be more readily available at places such as Office Depot so that more people can experience their nice color prints. In the meantime you can reach Alps directly at (800) 825-2577 which is 1-800-825-(ALPS). Besides, be forewarned about the reality of cheap ink jet printers, their color fades FAST, and Epson printers will bankrupt your budget with their greedy ink cartridges.

Main telephone is (408) 432-6000, fax (408) 432-6035, e-mail is:, web site is

Check to see whether they are still in business. Either way, please let us know, address of Alps is: 3553 North First Street, San Jose, CA 95134.


Dye sub printers

unpacking comparison
Dye-sub prints

Comparison of dual color modes of the ALPS 1300 and more pictures

Extensive test results on what papers are best for Alps

Gateway to many more reviews of paper and helpful links

List of Useful and Necessary Accessories for Digital Imaging and Computers.

What kind of equipment can store all these large digital images?

Where and how to store your digital images? RAID, DVD, or CD-R ?

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Posted mid-1998, edited March 20, 1999, last updated Mach 15, 2000, links revised April 21, 2000; links added Mar.2002,
Redesigned January 2004
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