The Ultimate Digital Photography Review

Francis Vale

EPSON PictureMate Photo Printer

So you have all those brilliant baby pics taken with a great camera like the Casio EX-P600. But what's the best way to show off newborn Marcy drooling onto your life partner's buff shoulder? One way is to use the EX-P600's built-in USB port and the supplied USB cable and squirt the photos into your PC or Mac (Classic or OS X). Or alternatively, you can use the Casio-supplied video cable and the EX-P600's video connector and show the pics on TV.  But nothing still beats having a small stack of paper photos for the ultimate in hey-let-me-show-you-these! portability.

Clearly, you need a photo printer whose colorful and exacting capabilities equal that of the Casio EX-P600. Enter Epson's newest addition to its photo printer line, the $199 (MSRP) PictureMate. Billed by Epson as "Personal Photo Lab", this wonderfully useful device is about the size of a loaf of 9-grain bread, and packs as much photo nutrition.  The PictureMate has only one job in life"hproducing brilliant 4" x 6" paper photos.

Amazingly, the special inks used in the PictureMate allow its prints to last two hundred years if the photos are stored in an album, and 100 hundred years if stuck in a glass frame. Epson claims that its PictureMate photos resist fading as much as 2 to 4 times longer than the leading photo lab brands, and about 4 to 20 times longer than other dedicated 4" x 6" photo printers. Two centuries from now, your bioengineered future descendants can sit around and cluck about how weird it was that great-great-great-great granddad George looked so old at the non-stem cell regenerated age of 82. They may even find some crinkled and yellowed Red Sox 2004 World Series Championship tickets stuck in the back of that two centuries old picture frame.

This five and one half pound 6-color inkjet printer comes with a convenient carrying handle, and the PictureMate's unobtrusive 10" x 6" x 6.4" (L x W x H) dimensions allow it to be put or brought most anywhere; living room, dining table, kitchen, den, or the vacation cabin. Even when operating, the printer's quite compact as only its depth increases, from 6" to 12". There is also an accessory car adapter ($50) so you could even use the PictureMate as a mobile photo lab if you are out on a pro shoot and want instant proofs, or you are just out on a family picnic.

You can instruct this cute little black and silver printer to quietly churn out single 4" x 6" prints with or without borders or make two wallet-size prints on a single sheet. There is no need to worry about bending photos while printing thanks to the PictureMate's straight through paper path.  Because there is no full color LCD on the PictureMate to preview your photos before printing, you will also probably be using its ability to print out 9 numbered thumbnail photos on an index sheet to make your final printing selections.

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