Need to buy a gift for somebody who loves technology but you can’t afford the big ticket items?
Epson PictureMate PM270
Portable printing for the avid family photographer
- Fairly portable, large LCD screen, impressive quality printing
- Slightly bulky, expensive, battery isn’t bundled
Although it isn’t the most stylish printer out there, the PM270 prints fairly fast and produces decent quality. It won’t fit in your backpacking luggage, but for the average family photographer, the PM270 is portable enough to take away on holidays.
Price$ 249.00 (AUD)
Epson's answer to the SELPHY ES2, the PictureMate PM270 is a dedicated photo printer targeted at amateur photographers and families on the go. The PM270 focuses on simple 4x6in printing and does a better job than the ES2 in this regard. Print quality is exemplary, and while the PM270 isn't the most portable of printers it will definitely do a good job of quickly and smoothly printing family photos.
At 165mm deep, the PM270 is significantly longer than the ES2's 113.3mm. The unit is also much 'boxier'; it even has a lunchbox-style handle on top. The case manages to pack in plenty of technology, the pinnacle of which is a 3.6in LCD screen; perhaps overkill for a small device, but a welcome inclusion for photo editing. The PM270 offers a multi-card reader supporting SD, xD, Memory Stick and Compact Flash, as well as a PictBridge port for direct printing from a capable digital camera or mobile phone.
The PM270's portability is mainly hampered by one thing — it doesn't come with a battery. Epson offers a battery accessory, which is currently priced at $104.50. Although it's two-fifths the cost of the whole printer, it's necessary if you want to print outside the home.
Epson bundles ink cartridges with 150 sheets of paper for $42.49 each. Typical printing works out to an average 28.3c per photo, which is slightly expensive considering normal Kodak instant photo booths are 25c per 4x6in photo. For a portable printer, however, the PM270's consumable price is adequate.
Navigating the PM270's menu is achieved through using six soft-touch buttons and a five-way navigation pad. As the device is designed primarily as a standalone printer, the majority of settings and maintenance options can be accessed from the device itself, making it completely independent from any connection to a PC. The printer offers basic photo editing features, such as rotation and red-eye reduction, as well as brightness and saturation changes. We would have liked to see a cropping feature — particularly given the five-way navigational pad — but there is enough functionality for the average user.
Direct photo printing is a simple process. Once a camera is connected or a memory card inserted, the PM270 will display the available photos in a 4x4 grid that allows users to select which photos to print and how many of each photo in a single step. The device can be slightly slow at loading the gallery thumbnails, but this is unsurprising. Once photos are selected, they are easily printed using a choice of three photo formats — 4x6in, 16:9 wide format, and photo stickers.
Once the PM270 actually begins to print, its true colours are shown. As direct printing does not give users any quality options, it is difficult to ascertain the resolution setting used in this mode; printing speeds for borderless 4x6in photos ranged from 35sec to 49sec for more detailed images. When printing from a computer, the PM270 managed to print photos in 29.8sec in 'speed' mode, slowing to 1min 13sec using the highest quality mode. Unlike the ES2, the PM270 only needs to pass the photo media through once in order to print, but the total print time is still about the same.
Despite similar printing speeds, the PM270 clearly excels in print quality compared to the ES2. The exaggerated colours we noticed in the SELPHY ES2 aren't present here. Instead, the image is crisp and balanced with realistic and defined blacks, and it even manages to produce yellows with the same vibrancy commonly found in Canon printers. Reds are accurate, but there is some evidence of haloing around figures and slight vertical banding in gradients. The PM270 won't print at the same quality as the Stylus Photo R2880, but its print quality is definitely good enough for users who need quick photos on the go.
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