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Epson PictureMate 100
Judging by the amount of television advertising devoted to personal photo printers, they are becoming very valuable products for their manufacturers. Epson now has one of these ‘photo lab’ devices at well under £100, and so puts itself up against HP and Lexmark, in what is an increasingly crowded market.
The white and purply-silver case of this small-loaf sized printer gives it a clean, homely look and there’s a handle for carrying it around with you. This is somewhat spoiled by the fact you also have to carry a power supply and mains lead, but you can invest in an optional Lithium ion battery (around £50), if you need to print away from the mains.
The front cover folds down to make a paper-out tray and one at the back flips out and extends to take up to 20 sheets of 15 x 10cm photo paper. The control panel comprises eight different buttons, for selecting the number of copies, scrolling through menu options, starting a print and selecting modes. A button on the left selects between print, thumbnail and utility modes, while one on the right selects single or double prints per sheet and bordered or borderless output.
The LCD display, at a mere 38mm, is small. It’s big enough to select images to print, but not big enough to be able to see them clearly. In fact, it looks as if a smaller display has been fitted than the surround was originally designed for. Or, to put it another way, until you switch it on, the display looks bigger than it actually is.
On the right-hand side, a pull-down cover reveals a set of memory card readers, which take all the common types, so you can view the images and print from them. At the back are power and USB 2.0 ports, with a PictBridge connection, too, for linking cameras directly to the printer.
The four-colour ink cartridge, which runs the full width of the printer, slots very simply in at the back. As all four inks are contained in the same cartridge, you do risk wasting some ink, if you print pictures with a colour skew – all green landscapes, for example, or all portraits full of flesh tints. As always, it’s a trade off between ease of use and economy.