Epson Picturemate PM290 printer review

Don’t mistake an Epson Picturemate for a photo printing workhorse, that would be to miss the point. This is hardware for the casual digital photographer, not the professional or even the prosumer for that matter. If you fall into the category of someone with a camera who wants to print off a few pictures every week, rather than a few dozen every day, and without hassle or even a PC then Epson has pretty much got you covered.

The print quality is nothing short of superb, which to be honest is what we have come to expect from the Epson Photomate range. What is fairly surprising is the speed with which this particular printer can throw your photo onto paper: around 40 seconds from cold for a 10 x 15cm picture is no mean feat for a truly portable unit. And that is full colour, full bleed, fully lab quality prints as well.

We really liked the fact that despite the relatively small size of this printer, 250 x 231 x 165mm and weighing in at 3kg, it still comes fully pimped: a 9.1cm colour LCD, integrated image editing, even a built-in CD/DVD drive. Yet it really is a portable, right down to the neat fold-away handle to carry it around by. The memory card reader covers SDHC, Memory Stick Pro Duo, CompactFlash, SD card, Memory Stick, MultiMedia, IBM Microdrive, xD-Picture Card and there is USB connectivity as well. Bluetooth finishes things off nicely and means you really do have all bases covered when it comes to the no-PC-printing experience.

We also rather liked the clever auto-optimisation process which ensures every photo is printed in the best possible colour quality, without having to enter edit mode if you just want quick and crisp images every time. If you do want to get your hands dirty and be a little creative, then you can, but only a little. Editing options are limited to cropping and zooming, printing in sepia, adding borders, producing different sized output, red-eye reduction and that’s pretty much it. But hey, that’s pretty much all you need in a portable lab isn’t it?

No? OK then don’t forget the built-in CD/DVD drive which gives you an instant archiving ability to save your images from memory card to DVD. Now that’s what we call really handy in such a small package. What’s more, everything is really easy to use. From the moment you turn it on and lift the LCD open and are confronted with helpful tutorial animations, you know it is going to be a joy to use and you are not disappointed.

It’s Vista compatible, can reach a resolution of 5760 x 1440dpi, has a print speed of 1.62ppm and utilises the Epson Micro Piezo print head for four colour inkjet printing that produces near lab quality results courtesy of the advanced variable sized droplet technology.

Verdict

With running costs working out to around 20p per photo, it’s hard to ignore the PM290 if you are looking for a truly portable photo lab.

We don’t like it, we absolutely love it!