Epson PictureMate

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  • $129.00
Epson PictureMate
This portable photo printer produces quality output, but we wish it ran on batteries. It could stand to be a lot faster, too.

Touted by Epson as a "personal photo lab," the solidly built, 2.5-kilogram, portable PictureMate is certainly designed for traveling. Tuck back the handle, plug in the AC adapter, fold down the rear 20-sheet feed tray and the front delivery tray, and you're ready to go.

The roughly 25-by-15-by-15-centimeter device has three multipurpose slots that accept CompactFlash I and II, Microdrive, SmartMedia, Sony Memory Stick, Secure Digital, MultiMediaCard, and xD-Picture storage media. There are also USB and EXT/IF ports on the back for connecting external Zip, USB flash, or CD drives and printing from PictBridge or USB Direct Print digital cameras. The Epson PictureMate also has an optional Bluetooth adapter (AU$187) that enables you to print from Bluetooth devices that support standard Bluetooth printing profiles such as PDAs or mobile phones.

The top-mounted controls include Print, Cancel, and Save Photo buttons and a 2-inch, monochrome LCD that displays easy-to-understand menus for selecting, enhancing, cropping, and printing images using a four-way control pad. A straight-through paper path ensures no-nonsense, no-bend printing with the sturdy Epson 4x6-inch photo stock.

The Epson PictureMate lacks only two things to make it the perfect carry-anywhere picture machine: a battery-power option and a colour LCD for previewing and selecting pictures. The similarly priced HP Photosmart 245 has the latter, while printers with a self-contained power source, such as the Canon CP-330, are typically much more expensive than the Epson.

Since the PictureMate lacks a colour LCD for previewing photos, you'll need to print out an index sheet and select from the numbered thumbnails when you're in standalone mode. In order to crop a shot, you'll have to print a reference template (which can be reused because the cropping areas don't change) and select from 18 suggested settings.

If your digital camera supports DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) and has internal cropping and resizing features, it's probably a better idea to trim and select your pictures in the camera. Of course, when the PictureMate is connected to a computer, you can select and crop pictures there.

The printer comes with Epson's Film Factory, a versatile, album-style software package for Windows and Macintosh that lets you preview images, add text, and perform simple retouching, such as adjusting brightness and contrast, tweaking colour, and removing red-eye. When you are printing from a computer, a progress gauge pops up on your screen and displays useful information such as the amount of ink remaining in the cartridge.

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The Epson PictureMate uses a single six-colour ink cartridge to produce borderless or bordered water-, fingerprint-, and smudge-resistant prints that Epson claims will resist fading for 100 to 200 years. Our test prints were rich and brilliant, with solid blacks, saturated colours, and smooth, seamless gradients.

We needed a 10X magnifier to detect extremely faint horizontal banding caused by the movement of the printhead. Images were adequately sharp and free of jaggies. Black-and-white prints had a suitably wide dynamic range, with dense blacks and pure whites without colour casts.

It took 2.44 minutes to print a 4x6-inch photo, which is quite sluggish compared to other portable printers we've tested. The Canon CP-330 took 1.6 minutes to do the same job, and the Olympus P-10 cranked it out in 1.1 minutes. While it's certainly not a speed demon, the Epson PictureMate runs quietly and is very easy to set up and use. We did notice one performance quirk: when you swap out print cartridges, the PictureMate takes a few minutes to read the chip on the new cartridge before it starts printing.

CNET Labs project leader Dong Van Ngo contributed to this review.

Epson PictureMate
Company: Epson
Price: AU$399
Distributor: Selected resellers
Phone: 1300 131 928

Specifications

General
Printer Type Compact photo printer - ink-jet - color
Printer
Technology ink-jet
Built-in Devices status LCD
Connectivity Technology wired
Interface USB
Direct Printing Specifications DPOF, PictBridge
Language Simulation EPSON ESC/P Raster, EPSON Remote
Printer Features borderless printing
Type compact photo printer
Portable portable
Max H-Document Size 4 m
Max V-Document Size 6 in
Media Type glossy photo paper, photo paper
Media Sizes 4 in x 6 in
Total Media Capacity 20 sheets
Power Device
Nominal Voltage AC 120 V
Frequency Required 50/60 Hz
Power Consumption Operational 13 Watt
Power
Power Consumption Stand by / Sleep 4 Watt
Frequency Required 50/60 Hz
Power Consumption Operational 13 Watt
Battery
Form Factor none
RAM
Installed Size 64 KB
Card Reader
Type card reader
Supported Flash Memory Cards CompactFlash Card type II, Memory Stick PRO, SD Memory Card, SmartMedia Card, xD-Picture Card
Printing
Max Resolution Color 5760 x 1440 dpi
Media Handling
Max Media Size (Custom) 4 in x 6 in
Media Type Photo paper, glossy photo paper
Total Media Capacity 20 sheets
Media Sizes 4 in x 6 in
System Requirements
OS Required Apple MacOS 9.1 or later, Apple MacOS X 10.2 - 10.3, Microsoft Windows 98SE/2000/ME/XP
Copier
Copier Type none
Environmental Parameters
Min Operating Temperature 50 °F
Max Operating Temperature 95 °F
Humidity Range Operating 20 - 80%
Document & Media Handling
Media Type Class photo paper
Media Size Class Other
Header
Brand Epson
Product Line Epson PictureMate
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility Mac, PC
Office Machine
Type printer
Functions printer
Printing Technology ink-jet
Printing Output Type color
Interface Required
Connector Type 4 pin USB Type A
Type USB, direct print port
Total Qty 1
Dimensions & Weight
Width 10.1 in
Depth 6.1 in
Height 6.4 in
Weight 5.51 lbs
Expansion Bays
Type none
Slot Required
Type none
Printer Media
Media Load Type automatic
Media Feeder Qty 1
Media Feeder Max Format 4 in x 6 in
Media Feeder Capacity 20 sheets
PC Connectivity
Interface USB
System Requirements Details
Operating System MacOS 9.1 or later, MacOS X 10.2, MacOS X 10.3, Windows 98SE/2000/ME/XP
Processor Type Pentium, PowerPC G3
Processor Speed 233 Hz
Min RAM Size 64 MB
Min Hard Drive Space 200 MB

Where To Buy

Price
$129.00

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Where To Buy

Epson PictureMate

Part Number: C11C556001
Price
$129.00