Epson PictureMate PM235 photo printer

A well-priced photo printer with expensive consumables

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Epson PictureMate PM235
  • Expert Rating

    3.25 / 5

Pros

  • Cute design, fairly easy to use, quick print speeds, good black and white photo print quality

Cons

  • Bluetooth connectivity costs extra, expensive consumables, inkjet technology means printhead cleaning and alignment required

Bottom Line

Epson's PictureMate PM235 is diminutive and can print from a variety of memory cards and PictBridge devices. Unfortunately, print quality issues mar what is otherwise a decent option.

Would you buy this?

Epson's PictureMate PM235 photo printer is a step down from the PictureMate PM270 in terms of portability and speed, but it retains good overall print quality for the price.

Aesthetically, little is different from other Epson dedicated photo printers; it has the same bucket-and-handle design of the PictureMate PM270 that, when fully opened, takes up a surprisingly large amount of room. On the inside, however, the newer model has some noticeable differences. For one, the Epson PictureMate PM235 only has a 2.5in tilting display; it's fine for viewing photos and changing settings, but is too small to edit photos.

The PictureMate PM235 can't stray far from a power point, as Epson doesn't currently offer a battery pack for it.

Two USB ports on the back allow you to connect the printer to a computer or PictBridge-capable mobile phones and digital cameras; USB flash drives aren't supported. It can also print photos directly from memory cards, with support for SD, xD, MemoryStick Pro and CompactFlash formats. Bluetooth connectivity is also available, but only by purchasing a $79 optional accessory.

Oddly, the Epson PictureMate PM235 doesn't use the dye-sublimation printing method employed by most current photo printers. Instead, it uses the same inkjet technology found in standard-sized printers and multifunctions. This means the PictureMate PM235 prints quicker than dye-sub printers, though you'll have to deal with the endless print quality issues associated with printhead cleaning and alignment, which wastes ink as well as photo paper.

The only consumable is a single inkjet cartridge that combines three individual colour inkwells and a black pigment. Epson sells the cartridges with a 150-sheet pack of photo paper for $48.99 or 33c per 4x6in photo, which is more expensive per photo than Canon's SELPHY ES3. Unlike Canon's dye-sublimation consumable, paper and ink for the PictureMate PM235 aren't physically combined, so you can use any 4x6in paper of your choosing.

The PictureMate PM235 offers "speed" and "quality" print modes, with negligible difference in print quality. However, print speeds differ significantly; you can expect a photo to print in 32-36 seconds in "speed" mode, while full quality photos will take between 1m 15s and 1m 25s.

Overall print quality is quite good: colours are vibrant, images are detailed and monochrome photos are crisp. However, we did notice a slight banding problem in colour photos. It usually occurred in colour gradients. This issue was persistent across several test photos and despite attempts to clean and realign the PictureMate PM235's print head. Photos are quite good for the home, but the printer isn't quite the "mini photo lab" Epson claims.

We prefer the slow but consistently high quality dye-sublimation method for photo printing over the PictureMate PM235's inkjet technology. Compared to Epson's highly capable PictureMate range in the US, the PM235 also seems like a raw deal, and this printer's ease of use and print quality are inferior to similarly priced models like Canon's SELPHY CP780.

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