- Page 1 Epson PictureMate – Photo Printer
- Page 2 Epson PictureMate
My other reservation is the speed of the device, although whether this is an issue depends entirely upon your demands for the PictureMate. Like the RX600 the PictureMate is no greyhound, but unlike the RX600, it doesn’t claim to be. Prints will take roughly two minutes each; I timed mine at an average of 116 seconds against Epson’s published time of 114 seconds and unlike traditional printers, it makes no difference whether this is the first print out of the machine, or the second. Epson acknowledges this in the comparison charts it provided us with for the review, with its rivals purporting times of roughly between 80 and 90 seconds. Whether this is a problem to the average PictureMate customer is again open to debate, it all comes down to your individual needs.
These reservations aside, I am highly impressed with the connectivity options offered by the PictureMate. Flip down the panel to the right of the print tray and you will be presented with a memory card reader with a dizzying array of supported formats. SD/MMC, MemoryStick, CompactFlash Type I and II, SmartMedia, and xD are supported natively and Bluetooth is an optional extra should you require it. There is also an additional USB port in the back of the PictureMate which allows you to backup photos directly from a memory card to an externally connected CD/DVD writer or Zip drive. Given that you can print from all these formats without having to switch on a PC, it would have been nice to have a colour LCD on the PictureMate for previewing photos, but this would have driven the cost up considerably. That said, there is the option to print out an index sheet with up to 20 photos per page should you wish to print selectively.
Whether you need to print selectively on the other hand is open to debate because the PictureMate has very reasonable running costs. Epson offers a combination package of its six colour cartridge and 100 10 x 15cm sheets called PicturePack for an RRP of £28.99, but it can be found from online retailers for as little as £22.99. That works out at a very reasonable 23p per picture, which is competitive with high street lab prices. Funnily enough, most manufacturers offer their printers at very low costs then kill the consumer on refills. By contrast, Epson seems to have gone the other way with the PictureMate, as at £123 the printer is not cheap, but you can offset the initial purchase with the low running costs.
One final thought. It has been put to me a number of times that it would be easier to simply purchase a cheap dedicated photo printer for less money and get three photos per page on A4. That suggestion has some logic to it, but I think for the market Epson is aiming the PictureMate at, it misses the point. First, the portable size and ability to run independently of a PC separates it from the majority of cheap photo printers. Second, you would lose out on the fingerprint and water resistant durability of the prints; and finally, the PictureMate really is all about convenience. There is no need to rotate, crop and cut out your photos, just push in a memory card press Print and leave it to it. In a world of multitasking, highly flexible technology the PictureMate and 10 x 15cm printers in general are a rare breed as they are designed to do just one job. But even though the PictureMate is not a jack of all trades, it’s definitely a master of one.
I have no doubt that the 10 x 15cm printer market is going to become incredibly competitive over the next 12 months. That should work out nicely for the consumer, but right now, the Epson PictureMate is already a very accomplished product that let’s you make the most of your digital camera.
Score in detail
Print Speed 7
Print Quality 8