Design and construction
As can be seen by the shot above, the Epson PictureMate is reasonably compact, though the outwardly similar looking HP Photosmart 100 and 200-series 6x4 inch photo printers are slightly smaller.
The Epson PictureMate is conventional in some aspects of its design. Up to about 20 sheets of 6x4 inch paper can be stacked at the rear of the unit and finished prints are collected on a fold-down rest at the front.
The rear of the unit begins to reveal the more unusual aspects of the PictureMate design.
The wide flap at the bottom of the rear unit is where the enormous ink cartridge goes.
And here (above) is that six-ink photo ink cartridge in its blue airtight bag. This is the largest photo ink cartridge of any ink-jet printer outside of the professional market.
Turned over, you can see the six ink channels and the green and gold contact pad for the integrated duty cycle monitor chip. Once a hundred prints have been made you must replace the cartridge. The replacement is supplied, as standard, with a hundred sheets of 6x4 paper.
With the cartridge bay flap open, the printer is ready to accept the cartridge. A horizontal lever is built in for extracting spent cartridges.
Above you can see the cartridge half inserted.
Finally, the cartridge is pushed fully home. As you can see, it's almost as wide as the base of the printer itself. The installation procedure is actually quite straightforward. Unlike most other consumer ink-jet printers, the cartridge is physically separate from the moving print head. There is no requirement for a manual head alignment setup procedure.
At the right hand side front of the unit as viewed from the front, a flap can be lowered to reveal the direct print universal media card reader. It supports all types of compact flash, SD/MMC, SmartMedia, Sony Memory Stick and Memory Stick Pro cards and xD PictureCards.
Round the back of the unit once more, the central section of the rear of the unit tilts back to serve as a paper rest for blank sheets.
The folded rest also telescopes out a couple of centimetres to provide extra support.
Above is a view of a stack of around twenty blank sheets of paper ready to be printed.
Above on the right side of the rear of the unit you can see the computer-to-printer USB socket, the PictBridge compatible camera-to-printer USB socket and the proprietary fit socket for the external power supply adapter.
Above demonstrates the range of movement of the carry handle. When not in use the handle can be folded down and out of the way behind the unit.
Direct print controls are positioned in a huddle around the mono status display screen. Surprisingly, a colour image preview screen is not even listed as an optional extra.
Once the printer is initially set up, a rather jolly message is displayed urging you to have a 'great time' with your new printer!
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