MAKE:TNT Tools 'n' Tips

Hi-Touch Imaging 631PL

Tool photo.

My friends and relatives still don't think that getting "MIME Encoded DSC10034.JPG" in their email inbox is an appropriate response to "Send me a copy of that picture." With that attitude, I was ready to go back to my mantra from film days: "I'm shooting slides, sorry. Can't make prints, you know."

It's all better now. I took advantage of the plunging prices for dye sublimation printers and purchased a HiTi 631PL printer.

"Dye sub"printers use a roller to press the photo paper against a "ribbon" and a thermal print head. As the paper and ribbon roll through, pixels in the print head are heated, diffusing ("sublimating") the color from the ribbon into a spot on the paper. This process is repeated three times, one pass for each of the primary subtractive colors: cyan, magenta, and yellow.

This process produces a remarkably even, "dotless" continuous tone image that is difficult to tell from a traditional photographic print. The HiTi 631 is a relentlessly single-purpose machine. It is designed to do exactly one thing: make extremely high-quality 4x6 photo prints ... period. Operation is simple: hit the "print" button in your favorite application, and in less than two minutes, a lab-quality print will drop in the "out" tray.


  • Compact, quiet, and fast.
  • Produces durable, sharp, pixel-less prints with amazing color.
  • Cheap (street price well under $200 with controller handset).


  • Not versatile; produces only 4x6 photos.

  • Only connects to Windows computers or works as a standalone.

  • Inefficient; one ribbon cassette produces exactly 50 prints, regardless of the amount or type of color in the images.

Bottom line:

If you need to print photos, and don't need anything larger than 4x6, buy it. I can't imagine going back to anything else for photo work.