Pros: Can print solid color, free standing images well.
Cons: Low quality, messy look, not worth the money.
Barbie Dolld Up Nails Digital Nail Printer Review
If your kid is young enough to be proud of thier macaroni necklace they made at camp, they will love this. Otherwise buy some stickers instead. My 12 year old doesn't like the quality any more than I do, and much younger than 10 wouldn't be able to work the software on their own or comprehend the alignment. I think Mattell is resting on the "interest" factor to sell this product and put very little effort into quality. With some much added extra work I think we can produce some decent art but it is limited and still not worth the $$ and not kid-friendly. I feel very badly for the people this year who will scrape to buy their daughter the one present they want more than anything, and find how limited it is.
Setup was fairly harmless. It took about 20 minutes to install (my computer is painfully slow - thank you vista) After that the trick was to align the camera which took another 5 minutes and was not at all difficult. From there it was on to art.
As touted, they do provided a thousand different designs. Most of them are barbie logo's and themes. Aside from that it is a mish-mash of medium quality clipart. There was not one that I would want on my nails as an adult. However, my 12 year old knew better as well- "They are all too kiddy". As stated you can import images, which is a very easy process.
What it can't do:
It says on it not to use on acrylic nails. I have tried it both on my acrylic nails, as well as on my natural nails, the quality is a little better on natural nails but still not great by any standard. The maximum length, which is .56 is each one of my fingers length when cut down as far as possible, which actually leaves flesh extending farther than the nail. It does not cover my, or my 12 year old's thumb all the way. In that way it is also no good on acrylics.
I did try to do tips because it can't span the entire nail length, but it also does not reach across my nail. I have crescent shaped nails where many people I notice have more flat nail-beds. With the curvature of my nail, the printer is limited to printing in the central area, and cannot print the sides, even though the width fits the preview.
It also does not print white. The import will detect any white in your image and cut it out. You will not get any color lighter than the basecoat you have on, or your natural nail color. And anything white in the image will come out the color your are printing on.
It will NOT cover the width of my 12 year old either and she has a small gap on both sides.
With this the promotional photos are clearly photoshopped.
What it can do:
Well, I've already shelled out the $180, and it would cost a good bit to ship it back for a refund so I'm going to make positive of it instead. What it can do with suitable results is print free standing images, like bat, hello kitty head, a christmas tree or some sort of logo. Think.. anything a sticker can do, with low quality.
I think it will work well for art similar to what your nail tech will do when they free-hand paint the lines that flair out of one corner.
You can also angle your finger so it prints one area, the angle it again to print another. But I wouldn't dare try to piece together a landscape.
The quality is that of your at-home bubble jet printer... Only your printing the size of your nail. The "dots" are very visable.
It says that it can print photos. But the quality is low, there are printer lines through the image and it comes out dark. I would not recommend printing photos. With practice I may find that there is a better thickness to apply the base coat but I can't imagine much improvement.
Also, printing on natural nails changes the color of your art and I don't recommend anything but black for that. It comes with a white coat - which will not apply evenly but the color is clearer. It says you can use your own nail polish under the base coat of any color - but again the color will distort and I only recommend black.
The printer also seems to "error" every few nails and produce a blurry image. It says you can wipe off the ink when it is wet, and you can but it still leaves enough residue to require you to remove the paint and re-apply. It is a tedious process.
Cost for upkeep:
Unknown. I looked at the website provided (service.mattel.com), I then searched and found that re-fills on ink or base-coats are not available yet. The printer cartridge is a barbie product and is of a cosmetic grade ink. I don't believe there will be a generic replacement any time soon.
How to optimize this purchase:
I am a graphic designer and have photoshop at home. I will use that to design my own imports. What I recommend to get the best possible quality, is to use freestanding images in which you have cut out the white parts your self. Then layer your art over a photo of your nail so you can adjust the colors to work with the natural color instead of fighting it. Then save it as a .png file.
If you would like to just print a logo or icon. I recommend applying the white and base coats to that area, print, apply top coat. Then take a fine paint brush dipped in polish remover to remove the white outside of your image, then apply a final topcoat.
If you know how to use photoshop the following may help.
I have done some work with it and found that making your image .6" tall and .4" wide at 150 DPI seems to give enough control to not have your image look like a mess. There is nothing within the manuals that says it's dpi, but it is not at 300. I guess it is more at 225 but i found the 150 controls your own design to make it look clearer. I also did my friends nails with the "Boo" character from super mario world, the 8-bit version where you can see the pixels. The pixel art came out GREAT but it would be a shame if all your art had to be a visible pixel to look clear.