New PictureMate almost perfect: PictureMate 500

Epson's original PictureMate photo printer was awarded a PC World Best Buys when reviewed back in June. Now, for $100 more, the company is offering the PictureMate 500.

The most notable difference is the 2.4in colour LCD display that flips up from the top of the printer and lets you view and edit your photos.

The PictureMate 500 is also faster. When we connected our shipping unit to a PC, our test photo printed in 1min 39sec - 37sec faster than the original, and swifter than many of the other desktop photo printers we've tested. The quality is excellent, too. Our photos appeared bright and sharp, with plenty of shadow and highlight detail. Part of the reason for the speed increase may be the printer's USB 2.0 Hi-Speed port.

While the original PictureMate's handle makes it easy to carry, the new PictureMate 500 becomes truly portable with the addition of an optional rechargeable battery. It slots away neatly inside the printer, but at $99 it's pricey. A $189 Bluetooth adapter, for cable-free printing, is also available.

Verdict The PictureMate 500 uses the same Epson six-colour ink and paper packs as the original model, which rated the lowest-per-print when we reviewed it. This new model's high-quality photos and low per-print cost should land it on any amateur photographer's short list. Paul Jasper

Epson PictureMate 500

Vendor: Epson Phone: 1300 361 054 URL: www.epson.com.au Specifications: 6-colour (black, cyan, magenta, yellow, red, blue) inkjet; 2.4in colour LCD display; supports multiple media cards (Compact Flash, SmartMedia, MemoryStick, SD, MMC, xD); holds 20 4x6in sheets; top-in front-out paper feed; USB 2.0; PictBridge; one-year warranty.

FEATURES: 9 VALUE: 8 OVERALLL: 9

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Paul Jasper

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