The Epson PictureMate Show is not just a printer, but also a digital picture frame, as well as a portable slideshow system that you can take with you. When it comes to photo printers, I haven’t been personally blown away or even convinced enough to plunk down any money for one when my home’s printer can print decent enough images with the right paper and ink. However the PictureMate Show gets the job done very well, even if it empties your wallet a bit, and it throws in the added benefit of working as a digital picture frame, which is pretty sweet.
In the box is the PictureMate Show, inside that box is another that includes instructions, ink, paper, software, a remote control, and power chords. The design of the PictureMate Show is very compact and will only take up a small footprint on a coffee table, desk, etc.. it’s not intrusive and it actually is a very nice design concept that would fit in just about anywhere. Unfortunately, the included ink will only get you about 20 glossy prints which is a bit of downer, since the printer costs $299.
The PictureMate show can be connected to either a PC or Mac, or it can work as a standalone device. The option is yours. Setup initially is very easy. Just make sure you peel off all the tape that holds certain trays and joints in place and then insert the cartridge, plug the power into the wall and turn the printer on. After you do that, the printer will tell you it’s charging the cartridge. In addition, once the printer is turned on that is when the included remote turns on. Which means you will never have to replace the batteries inside of the remote, since there are none.
Once the PictureMate Show is turned on, so is its beautiful big 7″ LCD screen – this display is very impressive for a photo printer. Next comes the fun part. You have several options to choose from of what you would like to do with your photos. You can print them obviously, with options to fix red-eye or crop them. The default setting for printing pics is 4×6 but you can print wallet size photos which is just two of the same images printed on the same 4×6 paper. The PictureMate Show will accept many forms of media to print from: Compact Flash, (Type I and II) SD, SDHC, Mini SD, Micro SD, MMC, MMC Plus, MMC Mobile, MMC Micro, Xd Picture Card, XD Picture Card, Sony Memory Sticks (Duo, Micro, Pro, Pro Duo, Pro HG Duo) and MagicGate, USB Flash Drives, and Digital Cameras Via PictBridge. An optional Bluetooth adapter is available as well so that you can print your photos wirelessly off of other Bluetooth devices such as your cell phone.
After you insert the media you want the images to come from, then you can choose to print them all at a time, or you can select which ones you want to print specifically from a bunch. The manual included clarifies every feature and function that the PictureMate will do for you, but even if you were never to read it you could easily figure it out. We selected an image we wanted to print and we timed the printing speed at about 35 seconds – there was no lag, nor was there an abundance of noise – nothing dissimilar to a typical printer printing. The end result was a beautiful glossy photo that looked as if it were done by a professional photo processing center.
The colors on the prints are vibrant and they pop right off of the paper. The ink also dries right away, so you don’t have to be afraid of smudging. The details are so vibrant on the prints, that you can tell if you used a lesser quality camera for some of the photos, just by how the photo printed out. However, one thing that would have been nice was to prep the next picture to print while one was already printing – which you can’t. You have to let each picture complete printing and then you can go ahead and set the next one to print. This is only a problem if you choose to print images one by one.
If you don’t want to select specific photos to print, you can alternatively print a bunch at at a time. But since I had a limited amount that the cartridge would let me print, I wanted to choose wisely. Once pictures are finished printing, the PictureMate Show stores the images in the machine for you to print again at a later time on the fly. This is ideal if you want to free up space on a media card that once had it. Once you are done with printing you can utilize the machine as a digital picture frame that will display images that were recently printed in unique transitions and animated themes. You can even print out photos with special effects from the slideshow area of the PictureMate Show.
So the PictureMate has it all, right? Well it would have been handy for the display to be touchscreen. I think having such a large screen almost screams “touch me” but alas all the functions of the PictureMate are controlled by the remote – so if you lose the remote, you’re in trouble. It also would have been nice to include a cartridge that printed maybe 50 instead, of just 20 before having to shell out $38 bucks for a replacement cartridge. And let’s not forget the printer paper. In the end when all is said and done; if you compare the cost of prints using the PictureMate Show to services like Kodak or Snapfish, these services will cost you on average of .20 cents per pic or rather 200 photos for $20 bucks – versus $38 for 150 images (that is the yield of the PictureMate Show cartridge) plus the cost of paper.
So ultimately you’re paying more for the convenience of being able to print quality photos on the spot at home. Fortunately, the Epson PictureMate Show is an excellent compact photo printer that does print beautiful photos and the fact that it can do it as a standalone machine on the fly is dreamy. It also has a built-in carrying handle so that you can easily move it around your home or take it with you to show off your digital photo album - this is the projector slideshow of the 2010′s if you will. Whether people will be willing to hand over a large chunk of change for such convenience is another story, but the PictureMate Show would make an awesome gift for any birthday or holiday. Overall, the PictureMate Show is truly a functional device that merges two devices together that really do make sense working along side one another. The Epson PictureMate Show retails for $299.99.
The Good: Excellent print quality. 7″ LCD display is bright and colorful. Slideshow section provides fun transitions and visualizations. Very easy to use and the remote control couldn’t be any simpler and portable. Setup was very painless and the device will support just about any type of media card. Perfect gift idea.
The Bad: Would have liked the display to be a touchscreen. Device does not let you multitask while printing. Printer a bit pricey for a designated photo printer, but like they say you get what you pay for.