Epson PictureMate review
Like the HP, the Epson uses inkjet technology rather than dye-sub. The PictureMate isn’t blessed with a colour screen, though – the mono display shows menu options only. This means you need to print an index sheet when printing from a media card (all are supported) as the filenames aren’t shown onscreen.
The PictureMate takes a single six-colour cartridge, and Epson is generous in bundling 100 sheets of paper in the box. PicturePacks (for 100 prints) cost £24 inc VAT, so prints are competitive at 24p each.
Bluetooth is an optional extra, but the unit can’t be battery powered. It’s PictBridge-compliant, though, so you can use your camera’s LCD when direct printing. The menus are easy to use (thanks to a handy Back button, which the HP lacks) and you can crop images, perform colour correction, enhance small images and print the date or time on your photos.
Borderless and bordered prints are offered, with up to 20 per 6 x 4in sheet. Each photo takes over two minutes to emerge, though, making this the slowest on test by far.
Fortunately, quality is rather good. Our Opera House photo had excellent colour balance and looked the most natural, while the macro shot showed smooth colour transitions and near-perfect saturation. Mono photos were impressively neutral, although lacked the detail of the HP’s. The only flaw was skin tones, which lacked warmth. Also, grain was visible up close, but not at normal viewing distances. One of the Epson’s other strengths is fade resistance – prints should last over 100 years before noticeably losing colour vibrancy.
With such cost-effective and decent-quality prints, the Epson deserves a place on your shortlist.