Epson PictureMate 240 review

Price when reviewed

Despite its bucket-like looks, the chunky new PictureMate 240 is a decent inkjet printer. It might only have a four-colour cartridge (compared to the original PictureMate’s six colours), but it produces surprisingly good photos. Not only that, but it beats most other 6 x 4in printers for speed, churning out prints in less than 50 seconds.

Epson PictureMate 240 review

You can buy a 50-sheet PicturePack (which includes enough ink for at least that number of photos) for around £14, or a better-value 150-sheet pack for £27 inc VAT, which equates to around 18p per print. That’s average compared to the other 6 x 4in printers here and, although more expensive than online sites such as Photobox, it’s more convenient.

When not in use, the output tray and top lid fold out of the way to save space and minimise dust entering the printer. The 2.5in LCD tilts up and the menu system is easy to use thanks to large, clearly labelled rubber buttons. We’re not sure why there’s a window in the lid, though, as it doesn’t even line up with the LCD screen.

You can print directly from a PictBridge-compatible camera, or simply insert a memory card into the reader on the front – all types are supported (except for the outdated SmartMedia). A second USB port at the rear allows you to hook up the 240 to a PC and print using the simple utility that’s included on CD. From the printer itself, you can choose several different layouts, add borders and edit images. You can crop, rotate, reduce red eye and tweak brightness, contrast and saturation.

You can’t print at the highest quality from a memory card – this is only possible from a PC – but quality was still excellent. Although some faint banding and grain is visible upon close examination, colours are extremely lifelike and transitions are smooth with none of the blockiness of the Canon Selphy. Being an inkjet, the PictureMate preserved details that are sometimes lost with dye-sub printers.

We found prints faded only slightly in our extreme exposure tests. After ten weeks in direct sunlight, only yellow ink had degraded marginally. With care, prints should last.

The PictureMate 240 isn’t the cheapest to buy, and doesn’t have the HP’s integrated Bluetooth module. But it has an unbeatable combination of print quality, speed and fade resistance that no other 6 x 4in printer here can match.

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