We’ve seen a few small portable printers appear over the past few years, and the latest one to hit our desks is the PictureMate PM235 from Epson.
A white cube about the size of a six-pack, it’s an inkjet model with a clever design. The top flips up to become the back of the paper feeder (it takes 4x6in, or 10x15cm, photo paper), and reveals a flip-up 2.5in LCD screen and a row of control buttons.
A push-to-release front panel opens to become the paper output tray, and also uncovers two memory card slots for SD, xD, Memory Stick and CF cards.
On the back is a slot for the compact four-colour ink cartridge, and a simple handle completes the package.
The PM235 has a very easy initial setup process, with cartridge insertion and printhead charging taking about three minutes. Then an onscreen guide takes you through the printing process.
Installing the Mac software is a bit of a pain as the VISE installer stops after installing each component and asks you if you want to install anything else – even after you specify a full install.
PictBridge printing direct to the printer is a breeze. I tried it with a Nikon D60 DSLR hooked up via USB, and a few quick on-camera settings were all it took to shoot out a high-quality print.
My main tests involved hooking the PM235 up to an iMac via USB, printing a number of test shots printed from iPhoto, Photoshop and Epson’s own Easy Photo Print software, and comparing them to the same shots printed out on Canon and HP photo printers.
In all cases the Epson prints were darker and had more saturated colours, and consequently suffered from a little loss of detail in the shadows. But overall the results were pleasing and very sharp.
The PM235 works off mains power only, which is a shame … having a battery would make it so much more portable.
Australian Macworld’s buying advice. I’m still not sure what the applications are for a printer like this. At 2.2kg it’s a little heavy to just pop into your luggage and take on holidays in the vague anticipation of wanting to make a few prints. Most people wouldn’t use it at home, I don’t think, as for the same price you can buy a multifunction unit which will pump out photos of similar – or better – quality. But I suppose this leaves us with business people who might need prints while on the road, unit-dwellers with a lack of space, party organisers … it’s not a huge market, but the PM235 would have its uses in some circumstances.
This review originally appeared in the March issue of Australian Macworld magazine.