Not all that long ago, sharing photos meant taking your film negatives to a store and then having to wait for the results. Unless you are a fabulous photographer, quite often there were some really bad photos that you wouldn’t printed if you’d known they were not good. When you wanted copies of the good photos, there was more delays as you went back to the store and waited for your prints to return.
While most people have ditched film cameras for digital cameras and smart devices where you can immediately see your photos, deleting and editing before you share, one those photos are on your phone, stick or hard drive, it’s unlikely that you’ll look at them, even if you load them into a digital photo frame. The truth is, while technology is great, most of us still long for that beautiful photo in a frame — the one that reminds us of special moments, things that make us proud, things that make us happy.
Now you can get all the advantages of digital photography, and still print and share tangible photos, thanks to Epson’s new PictureMate PM-400 Personal Photo Lab, a small and portable wireless photo printer (srp. $249.00) . The little unit is about the size of a purse, but it prints 4 x 6 or 5 x 7 photos, and can function on its own even, without a computer;–just send your photo via your phone, or send it by email if you wish. Even better, the The PM-400 is small and lightweight (9.8 x 6.9 x 3.3 inches when closed, Open for printing (9.8″ x 15.1″ x 7.9″ ). I have mine sitting on top of my regular (consumer paper printer), and there’s still extra room on top. It weighs just about 4 pounds so you can put it any place you want. You will need a wall plug as this one isn’t battery driven. You can make prints of your digital pictures quickly from your desktop using downloaded Epson software, or directly from your phone or smart device. Amazingly, you can even do this when you are not near the printer, and make as many copies as you like, quickly, while retaining your digital version.
You have to have a bit of patience to go through the setup, although it’s not difficult using the guided steps in the instruction booklet. Then download software from Epson onto your computer (I also downloaded Epson iPrint for my my android phone. Once all this is done, , simply turn it on, pull down the front panel (it functions as the output tray) and lift up the top panel to reveal the input tray. Load in some photo paper (make a single print or enough for a crowd — the input tray adjust for up to 20 pieces of photo paper . Although I am not sure why you’d want to print #10 envelopes, apparently this Epson printer will print those as well. The PM-400 it is intuitive, but I had an issue with Epson’s Connect with the registration process. A short phone call to Epson’s tech support fixed this issue. Like any other tech issue, when you get a knowledgeable tech support person it makes your day. Once that issue was resolved, the printer worked flawlessly by email or wirelessly. It was a thrill to see photos that had never been printed, now in physical form (average print time around 40 seconds).
The 2.7” color LCD with a control pad is the key to your printer. It provides the functions for Start, Stop, Back and Home. The display is logical although for those not quite comfortable with smart phones and computers, it might take a bit of a learning curve. On right hand side of the PM-400 there is a standard USB 2.0 port to connect thumb-drives, cameras, and USB portable hard drives. There is also an SD card slot. You have to also install a print driver which you download to your computer (assuming you will be using your computer with this unit with a USB or wireless by WiFi) directly from the Epson Web Site. None of this was difficult, you just follow the directions, step by step. This mighty little Epson will support mobile protocols like Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, and Epson’s own Epson Connect, Epson Email Print, and Epson iPrint apps. This Epson printer works with the following operating systems: Windows® 7 (32-bit, 64-bit) ; Windows® 8.x (32-bit, 64-bit), Windows Vista® (32-bit, 64-bit); Windows XP SP3 (32-bit), Windows XP Professional x64 Edition; Windows 10; Mac OS® X 10.6.8 – 10.10.x8 You can use an iPrint app to select the photos from your camera or print from online cloud services. There are also apps to connect from your smart phones.
I first saw the Epson PM-400 a few months ago at an Epson showcase that featured much larger printers as well as this one. Epson and “printer” really go hand in hand. They’ve got tons of them with new technology. Epson has a new professional photo printer that can print beautiful photos the size of a bus (over-exaggerating a bit, but that printer does huge photos). There are also five new EcoTank printer models (paper printers) that don’t use those ink-sucking all in one cartridges, but instead have containers on their sides that you can fill with just the liquid ink you need (out of black? Just squeeze some more ink). The PM-400 doesn’t have the new Eco Tank system, it uses a more traditional one ink cartridge with cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.
My first test prints needed minor some adjustments, and Epson has some auto photo corrections. You can’t fine tune too much on the actual printer, but obviously, the better the quality of the photo you are printing, to begin with, the better the result will be Some of my earliest digital photos from more than a decade ago, just weren’t very sharp and they weren’t that sharp in a physical print, either, but that’s not the printer’s fault. The print I made of my cat Nike in the sink is very close to true color, and very sharp! Also consider that the quality of your photos is tied to the quality of the ink in your cartridge and the photo paper you choose (so choose Epson-branded products for best result). An Epson PictureMate 400 Series Print Pack runs about $40.00, which includes an ink cartridge and 100 sheets of 4 x 6 glossy photo paper. One ink cartridge will run you about $30.00. The larger your print is, the more ink you will use (a 3.5 x 5 or 4 x 6 prints will keep the single ink jet cartridge going longer if you’re making a lot of 5 x 7-inch prints). Also, how long the ink lasts will depend upon what colors are in the photos. If your prints have a lot of one color, such as a lot of blue sky or sea, obviously you’ll use up the blue ink more quickly. The Picture Mate PM-400 isn’t all that expensive, and neither are ink or cartridges. Consider that if you used a photo print service you don’t get instant gratification. After testing this unit with different types of prints, myh conclusion is that the quality is about the same as you would have received from drugstore prints in the old days, but now you can print as many copies as you want of just the photos you want, in minutes. This makes it a fabulous idea for a party, where everyone is snapping selfies and group photos and everyone wants copies.Epson claims your precious prints will last 200 years even though it takes only about 36 seconds to print them! They are also supposedly water resistant. I didn’t substantiate this, but it is nice to know that your photos won’t fade quickly.
epson wireless PictureMate Photo Printer $249Once you get this printer set up and running, you can delight family and friends with photos you have just taken of them and they can take them home. This is a lovely gift for a family, for a bride-to-be or parents-to-be or actually, everyone! Trust Me: This printer will be the star of your next gathering, and a fabulous group gift for the entire family.
You can find this Epson PictureMate PM-400 printer in retail stores (e.g. Best Buy) and online.but first visit the Epson Web Site: http://www.epson.com for lots more information, and you can buy it there as well.