Unlike many consumer inkjets that offer a cornucopia of features and bolt-ons the PictureMate does one thing only – print high-quality glossy 4-x-6-inch photo-quality output, and, crucially, does it very well.
This device succeeds in two important areas: print quality and ink management. Its output is impressive, and, Epson claims, will not to fade for 100 years. Such longevity is made possible because ink and paper are designed to work together.
The PictureMate uses a six-colour single cartridge of pigment-based ink that it says will last for around 100 photos. It comes with a single cartridge of ink and a 100-sheet pack of glossy 10-x-15cm photo paper. When one or the other run out you buy a new pack of paper and ink for £28.99 (including VAT), giving a cost-per-photo of 29p. Although this is around the same price you’ll pay for digital-photography prints the beauty of this is approach is that you know where you stand. With other inkjets ink-consumption can be difficult to predict, and ink costs can soon mount. There’s very little reliable data on how many pages you can expect to get out of ink cartridges because it’s so difficult to test for.
The printer is dinky, and sports a handle on top, giving the impression it is eminently portable. It is, however, quite weighty and not something you’d enjoy lugging around. Design isn’t a strong point: the handle obscures a number of the controls and paper slots, and a right-hand panel obscures the media-card reader, from which images can be processed to
print. At least the print controls are straightforward, offering simple step-by-step instructions, as well
as the ability to print contact sheets.
The ink cartridge takes a few minutes to charge, but after this prints – if not lightning quick – pop out at a respectable speed.
Connectivity is USB-based, and there’s an additional USB slot for third-party Bluetooth adaptors. With Bluetooth, users can print from other Bluetooth devices, such as mobile phones.
PictureMate offers high-quality output and an imaginative approach to ink consumption and paper sales. With inkjet consumables costing an arm and a leg, being able to predict ink and paper costs over time is likely to appeal. When compared to low-end inkjets the PictureMate is expensive, but you have to take into account that the running costs are likely to be lower. Overall, if you want the convenience of photo printing without the wait, the PictureMate is an ideal solution.