Dye sublimation printing is the highest quality available on the desktop. A good dye sub print is equal to most prints produced in a photographic darkroom. But most dye sub printers cost $8000 or up.

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ALPS dye sub color printer

ALPS printer box (jpeg)

ALPS colorful box up-close

Thus we were curious how Alps quality would be, dye sub printer for $500! Dye sub avoids the dot structure and streaking with plague Epson ink jet printers (problems they do not reveal in their clever full-page advertisements). Dye sub is also superior to color laser in this respect--minimal streaks, minimal banding in dye sub.

Unfortunately, Alps, the company, has sort of disappeared from the scene and these printers are no longer sold in the USA. Even the box the Alps comes in looks colorful.

I have seen reviews of Alps printers for years, but this was the first time I ever saw one up close.

The design is minimalist, but hey, the cost is a bargain. If you want a fancy desktop designer printer, plenty are available for $8,000 and upwards. You can buy an Alps and still afford to send your kids to college. We have a considerable amount of experimentation still to come.

opening ALPS printer box (jpeg)
Unpacking the Alps color printer.

Alps subsequently sent a package of Hammermill laser paper. Hammermill has a good reputation for premium papers. We will be testing a host of other papers as well (links are at the bottom of this page).

Comparison photographs at the right show the dye sub mode (right) and the plain laser paper with Alps standard inks. The dye sub is not only superior in overall appearance, but the dye sub does appreciably better with the background, which is rather splotchy on regular paper. Banding is noticeable on virtually all laser printers that we have tested, and on our

Epson 1520 as well. So banding sort of comes with territory when you use desktop digital printers. In dye sub mode, however, we did not yet notice any visible banding. You do get, however, slight "tracks" from the fact that the ink ribbons are in narrow bands.


ALPS dye sub prints (jpeg)
Far right photo shows our first two print samples, while we were still learning how to operate the Alps. The paper her is a good quality laser paper, but really a photo quality or photo-realistic media

With the $8000 Kodak printer, each page costs about $5 to print because the ink sheets are the full size of the page (each ink color). But naturally with the Kodak printer you get no banding and no tracks whatsoever--pure continuous tone.

For 1999, Alps had new models available but the company did not survive. Someone e-mailed us that Alps USA had closed down. We do not have direct confirmation of this but also received no answer to our E-mail's sent to Alps.

Tests by Lance Beck, FLAAR Digital Imaging

Technology Center. Test organized by Nicholas Hellmuth, Director.






Dye sub printers

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Dye-sub prints

Main ALPS dye-sub page with more tips and recommendations

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.

Gateway of links to laser printers, Wideformat inkjet printers, Epson printers (and why to avoid them), and other informative links

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Review updated May 20, 1998 by Nicholas Hellmuth, updated March 24, 1999; updated April 22, 2000.o riginal Webmaster, 1998, James L Robinson, Links added Mar. 2002,
redesigned January 2004

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