Kodak Dock simplifies photo printing from mobile devices

Almost everyday I take photos on my smartphone while traveling or enjoying good times with friends. But I organize them much less often and print them immediately so I can put them in photo albums or share them with others.

The problem is that it takes a lot of time to regularly download all those images, especially if you’re carrying multiple phones, and then upload them to a photo printing website or your computer to print at home.

So when the latest Kodak Photo Print Station arrived for review by C+A Global, which distributes printers under the Kodak name, I eagerly set it up to see how it would print images directly from my smartphones.

Print station specifications

The $140 Kodak Photo Printer Dock, model PD450W, was released in June and works with a wide variety of the latest Android and iOS smartphones as well as USB drives, tablets and digital cameras.

The starter pack includes a 6.5 inch long, 2.7 inch wide, 3.9 inch high printer, as well as a power cord, a removable paper tray, a user manual very basic, a starter pack of 10 sheets of 4-inch by 6-inch photo paper and a starter print cartridge that will make 10 prints. Each photo paper set includes a fully enclosed ink pack that uses dye diffusion transfer inks to print the images.

Setting up the print station, which weighs just 1.67 pounds, is relatively intuitive. Plug in the power cord, then fill and attach the separate paper tray to the front of the printer and you’re ready to go, after using your phone or tablet to download and install the Kodak Photo Dock app from Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.

Press and hold the “power” button on the printer until the circle around it turns yellow, then you can plug your smartphone into the top-mounted micro USB port (or use the micro USB to Lightning adapter included for iPhone).

You can also connect your phone or other devices using its own charging cable, which can be plugged into the printer’s side USB port. Devices can also be connected to the printer via WiFi.

Getting the Kodak docking station to produce that first impression can be confusing. The brief user manual isn’t up to date with the command changes apparent in the most recent version of the print app, making the process less intuitive, at least to begin with.

With your phone or other device connected, you can select images from app folders on your device and prepare them for printing. There are several editing capabilities you can perform, including cropping and reorienting images, as well as adding decorative “stickers” and text to prints. Be sure to save your changes though, because if you try to roll back, you will lose the changes you made. The tools work well, but they’re nowhere near as sophisticated as Adobe Photoshop.

Once your images have been edited and decorated, they are almost ready to print. The printed instruction manual tells you to look for the app’s “print” button on your device’s screen, but you quickly discover that such a button is not in the app. Eventually I figured out the real print button is the “1-Touch” button in the lower left corner at the top of the printer, but it’s not highlighted with contrasting labeling, so it was difficult to spot.

Make prints

Once that procedure was settled, however, the magic began.

Instead of laying out the inks in a single pass, the Kodak Photo Printer Dock runs each 4-inch by 6-inch sheet of paper four times to apply each color (yellow, magenta, and cyan) to the paper.

The final pass lays down a protective coating to seal and protect the image. The instructions should explain this process better, however, as some users of the printer posted negative reviews about it on Amazon, claiming that the images only came out with yellow ink. Well, that’s because they had to remove the print before it had time to complete the print cycle. This could have been avoided with more information in the user guide.

Approximately 90 seconds after the print cycle starts, your print will fall out of the back of the printer and should be allowed to dry for a few minutes before handling.

When finished, images are clear with crisp, full colors. Are they as good as images from a professional photo printer or online photo printing provider? Maybe not so spectacular, but you just printed them on your dining room table and maybe you can take them with you to surprise Grandma with pictures of newly arrived grandkids.

For me, this is the best advantage of this photo printer. You can easily wear it to a party. Encourage your friends and family to download the app and you can all print instant photos without having to send the images elsewhere or pick them up at a store.

These are enjoyable, affordable and fun to share instant prints. The fact that it works with just about any smartphone, tablet, USB drive or camera makes it even more useful.

It’s like a modern take on the revolutionary Polaroid Land Cameras of the 1960s, which provided instant color images using photo packs made of paper, gelatin developing chemicals and their own protective coatings. You can take photos and view prints in just minutes. It was a game changer.

Print Dock Connection Options

I used the Kodak printer dock with my old LG V10 smartphone, which had to be connected via the USB port, and with a Motorola Moto Z2 Force handset, which also worked with the USB port. My girlfriend’s Samsung Galaxy S7 phone worked through the built-in micro USB port on the top of the printer.

While using my LG V10, I was able to press the Kodak 129-D icon on the phone app display screen to initiate a print. It seems that each phone model offers a different way to achieve the same result, which can be confusing.

Photos can be printed edge to edge or with a border, but the selection process is not intuitive. I prefer edge-to-edge images to keep them brighter and more powerful, but I lost several sheets trying to find the right settings.

If I used this printer regularly, I would probably connect my phones and other devices through the USB port all the time, due to concerns about the durability and long-term sturdiness of the top-mounted micro USB socket. So think about the USB port to connect your devices. It works great and is much sturdier for everyday use.

Refill ink and paper packs are available for $20 for 40 prints (50 cents per print), $35 for 80 prints (43.7 cents per print), or $47 for 120 prints (39 cents per print) , through Amazon and other retailers.

Elaine F. Brim