Epson PictureMate Deluxe Viewer Edition (PictureMate 500) review

Professional small-format photos the easy way, with a compact portable photo printer roughly the same size as a loaf of bread and engineered like a nuclear powered toaster! It makes digital photography easy and fun for all the family, even the Windows print driver is comparatively simple. This is practically the swan-song for the once lucrative but frustrating and time consuming commercial photo processing market.

The PictureMate 500 is marketed as a printing accessory for any digital camera, it supports direct printing from PictBridge cameras, popular digital camera technologies and a computer is optional for most printing tasks, however it can not execute complex manipulations, such as red eye reduction.

Here are some photos of the printer:

Box Contents:
Epson PictureMate 500 Personal Photo Lab
Power Cords
PictureMate Photo Cartridge
PictureMate Photo Paper - 20 sheets
User's Guide Kit: CD-ROM and User's Manuals

Main Features:
Light with easy carry handle
DC and optional lithium-ion battery power;
Optional Blue tooth print adapter;
PictBridge enhanced operation;
Not dependant a PictBridge camera;
PIM & ExifPrint complaint;
Brightness, saturation, sharpness correction;
Photo enhance, rotate, interference control;
Show/Print index prints;

Special Features:
Show/Print by date;
Printing with/without borders;
Printing 2 photos per sheet with/without borders
Printing black & white, sepia tone (old-fashioned look);
Printing with/without time & Date stamp (orange);
Digital zoom (cropping);
View memory media as a slide show;

Supported storage media formats:
CompactFlash Card;
Memory Stick;
Secure Digital Card;,
SmartMedia Card;
xD Picture Card;
Memory Stick Pro;

Slightly more expensive and 40% faster than Epson's original PictureMate printer, this updated model incorporates portability with the stylish look and well-designed functionality of its forefather with an improved menu system to boot.

It recognises JPEG and uncompressed TIFF files automatically, resolutions ranging from 80 X 80 to 4600 X 4600, printing from a camera, a memory card, directly as a printer or from a camera phone via the optional Bluetooth adapter (RRP £59.99); I just use my own inexpensive adaptor.

The stunning quality really is what makes this a good system, everything else is just very nice, if you want to see any slight vertical banding or ink droplets (flaws found on all inkjet printers) you have to look really closely, but unlike other inkjet-based dedicated photo printers which use a 3 colour process, you get professional small-format photos not just photo sized printouts.

It uses an exclusive archival 6 pigment (cyan, yellow, magenta, black, red, and blue) and hi-gloss Micro Piezo inkjet technology contained within a single-piece cartridge which means the prints are of better quality and last two to four times longer than the leading brands of inkjet based photo printer models.

Borderless 4x6-inch (15cm x 10cm), printing at a resolution of 5,760-by-1,440DPI, takes a little under 90 seconds. The print size is limited to 6x4in and it prints relatively slowly compared to regular inkjet models, but the prints have a rated lifespan of 104-years, as opposed to just 75 years for the standard chemical process offered by commercial developers.

It is controlled by 12 command buttons scattered around a 2.4-inch colour LCD (320x240 pixels), it automatically optimises each photo for colour and quality all of which makes this printer a formidable compact personal photo lab.

As well as a set of defaults, it has a range of fun effects, such as adding one of 16 frames, or printing in black and white or sepia tones. You can also zoom in on, and rotate, a specific area, cropping the rest of the image from your photo.

The LCD screen is good because it allows simple operation without having to have a PictBridge enhanced camera and being restricted to using the camera's display, where you either use the camera to control printing or ‘mark' all the images beforehand from the cameras interface, which I find annoying.

The price per photo rivals traditional high street processing. Prints cost approximately 22p each, this may sound relatively high, but it's quite reasonable compared to other dedicated photo printers - especially dye-sublimation models. As a comparison, taking your images to Tesco costs 10p per print, but takes an hour regardless of the number of images. My local Savacentre charge 35p per print (5-colour process), but this takes about 50 seconds each;

Added: March 22nd 2006
Product reviewed: Epson PictureMate Deluxe Viewer Edition (PictureMate 500)
Reviewer: Michael Hart
Score: 9.9/10
Page: 1/4

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