Introduction *UPDATED - Ink capacity much greater than orginally estimated*
Epson's PhotoMate is on the left and an HP Photosmart P100 is on the right
|Epson's new £149 PictureMate Personal Photo Lab is a single-size (6x4 inches) ink-jet photo printer that promises fade-resistant colour photo prints for about 29p a go. It's relatively compact and can be used with, or without a PC connected. A Bluetooth module for wireless printing from compatible mobile phone is available as an option.
Some obvious competitors to the Epson PictureMate include the £100 HP Photosmart 145, £150 HP PHotosmart 245, £170 HiTi 630PS, £140 Canon CP-220, Olympus P10 Photo printer, £200 Sony DPP-EX50 and the £180 SanyoDVP-P1EX. While the Epson and HP models are ink-jet printers, the rest are dye-sub printers and all produced 6x4 or near enough sized prints.
Fade resistance and unusual ink colours
If you are into the technicalities of the printer, the Epson PictureMate uses six fade-resistant pigment ink colours: the usual black, cyan, magenta and yellow plus, unusually, red and blue. Conventional (light) photo cyan and photo magenta inks are not used. Maximum print resolution is 5760x1440dpi and ink droplets come as small as 2.5 picolitres.
When I first set eyes on an Epson PictureMate, at the PMA trade show in February, the immediate visual similarity with HP's existing line of Photosmart P100 and P200-series mini printers was, to say the least, striking. Both are ink-jet printers, producing 6x4 inch photos either directly from memory cards or via a connected PC. But from there on the similarities end.
While HP adapted its existing A4 printer technology to fit the mini printer form factor, Epson has developed a brand new printer with new inks and a new ink delivery system.
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