Epson PictureMate puts photo lab in desktop package


That computer on your desk does so much of your everyday stuff these days, what with printing and burning and online and video and on and on it goes. Epson recently introduced two new stand-alone little printers that let you print out high-quality, 4-by-6 inch color photographs.

The Epson PictureMate is an amazing little device that I hesitate to call a mere photo printer. In fact, Epson more accurately describes the PictureMate as your very own photo lab that can fit on your countertop.

There are two models available. The PictureMate Show Digital Frame ($299.99) will show off your pictures on a high-resolution 7 inch screen. But you can also choose to print them out as well. Weighing in at just 5.7 pounds and around the size of a toaster, the PictureMate prints borderless, glossy 4-by-6 photographs at an industry-leading 5760 x 1440 dots per inch resolution.

With that kind of resolution, you can be sure your photographic images will be virtually undetectable from anything you will get from a photo lab. And Epson claims that the printed images are archival, lasting up to 100 years displayed in a glass frame and up to 200 years in a photo album. And they’re water- and smudge-resistant as well.

When it comes to features, the PictureMate’s photo-lab metaphor really shines. The PictureMate will accept most of the popular camera flash memory cards. You can also connect the PictureMate to a computer’s USB port.

Once it’s connected, you use the PictureMate’s screen to print a proof sheet to preview your photos. Then you can select different layouts such as wallet-sized photos, borders and color effects, such as sepia tones.

The screen displays menu selections that let you crop and automatically re-size the photos by first printing out a print crop template from which you can choose different crop options to get the exact image you want.

An included remote control lets you access all commands from a distance. You can also display your favorite photos with 12 slide-show options.

The other model, the PictureMate Charm ($149.99), lets you share your photos at home or on the go. It sports a smaller, 2.5-inch color screen to preview your photos and weighs in at 7.9 pounds.

Basically, it has most of the PictureMate Show features without the larger screen and slide-show features.

If your camera uses one of the photographic standards that help to define color accuracy, such as Exif Print and Print Image Matching, the PictureMate will use that information to produce the best possible prints.

It also has a small handle that makes it simple to carry around.

Other available accessories include a Bluetooth adapter that can wirelessly read photos from a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone camera.

But I think that the real value of the PictureMates is their convenience.

If you own a digital camera and you don’t want to drive down to the local photo lab to get high-quality prints, or the color inkjet printer on your computer takes too long, or the printing supplies cost too much or your printer simply lacks the resolution to print out archival quality images, then both PictureMates just might be the solution for which you’ve been looking.

If you want to connect the PictureMate to your computer and use it as a high-quality printer, you can do so with either a Windows PC or a Macintosh as it is compatible with both platforms.

For more information, go to www.epson.com/picturemate.

Craig Crossman is a national newspaper columnist writing about computers and technology. He also hosts “Computer America” on Business TalkRadio, Monday through Friday, 10 p.m.-midnight. For more information, visit his website at www.computeramerica.com.

2010, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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