Epson PictureMate

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Epson PictureMate

Pros

  • Printed photos look great, menu navigation is easy

Cons

  • Prints slower than competitors

Bottom Line

If it's compatible with your camera, the PictureMate is a good choice for affordable, top-quality snapshots.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 11 stores)

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The Epson PictureMate's design suggests portability and recreation: it has a handle and looks like a small silver-and-black boombox. Despite its size and portability, the PictureMate doesn't run on batteries, though you can buy an optional car adapter. It prints only on 4" x 6" paper, but you can have it make two wallet-size prints on one sheet.

We found the PictureMate a pleasure to use. It has a USB 1.1 port, which can support a direct link to a supported camera, an external CD writer, or a Bluetooth module. The printer also supports PictBridge and has slots for most common memory cards.

Navigating on-board menus with the four-way toggle button was easy. The menus let you print a proof sheet, pick images by number (the LCD doesn't display images), and print multiple pictures on the same sheet. You can convert prints to black-and-white or sepia-tone, and you can apply various cropping templates. The Save Photo button lets you write images from your memory card to a disc loaded in an external CD burner.

The LCD isn't backlit and suffers from distracting reflections, which can complicate reading the menus.

Many dedicated snapshot printers use dye-sublimation technology, but the PictureMate is an inkjet, with a six-ink cartridge that includes Epson's new red and blue inks. The flat, wide cartridge slides into the back of the printer. Epson provides a 20-sheet pack of paper and an ink cartridge with the printer; 100-sheet replacement packs include ink and cost $29, or 29 cents per print.

The PictureMate took two minutes and 22 seconds to print a photo from a PC--noticeably longer than other snapshot printers we have tested. But the output was worth waiting for: colours in the photo looked bright and luminous, detail popped out in sharp focus, and highlights and shadows looked natural.

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