The Epson PictureMate Deluxe Viewer Edition
Who Says Memories Have To Be Fleeting?

By Franco Vitaliano

We all know that having perfectly preserved photos from our younger days is really important.  How else do we show the plastic surgeon how we want to look again? Cher must have a closet full of 8x10 glossies by the recent look of things, all probably unsigned.

But if she had an Epson PictureMate picture printer she could have easily created a day-by-day collection of high quality 4x6’s that documented every furrowed change, plus saved a ton on 4 bucks a gallon gas to go pick up the prints, extra Mideast money that could have gone into sucking some superfluous cells out of her toches. Moreover, when gene therapy for eternal youth and double centenarian life spans finally arrives, she can take comfort in the fact that photos produced by this printer use inks that will last up to 200 years.

With its optional portable internal battery ($69.99) this loaf of bread sized printer, measuring just 10” x 6” x 6.4” (L x W x H), canbe placed or brought almost anywhere. The PictureMate has front loading slots that accept just about every memory card type imaginable, including CompactFlash® Type I and II, Secure Digital (SD™), MMC, Memory Stick® (including PRO, Duo, MagicGate™), SmartMedia®, and Microdrive™ xD-Picture Card. A USB port is on the rear of the PictureMate for hooking it up to your PC or Mac, and which also connects to Epson’s $69 Bluetooth photo print adaptor so you can wirelessly print pix directly from your cell phone, PDA or laptop. This USB port can also be used to save photos to or print from an external CD-R, Zip, or thumb drive.

Obviously, you no longer have an excuse for not photo-documenting every life changing moment, including producing endless pix of the grandkids. The downside is if you are using Windows to print out the photos, the little tykes will be driving you up a wall by the time all the copies are ready.  I timed almost three minutes per pic in some cases, although other pics zipped out in about half that time. However, with a MacOS X system, PictureMate print times were consistently 40% to 50% less than Windoze.

But if you really want to avoid having to spring for mollifying ice cream for everyone, go PC-less.  Just opt for the $50 more costly PictureMate Deluxe Viewer Edition, which, unlike its $150 PictureMate Express sibling, has a swing-up color LCD for previewing your pictures. This LCD also enables basic picture editing with the PictureMate’s built-in features, doing away with the PC. However, the PictureMate’s 2” x 1.5” LCD is money in LASIK’s pocket as aging eyes will be squinting a lot as they try to gauge photo-editing changes. Still, your watery orbs will shimmer in delight at the 75 second or so print times.

Whichever way you connect, the 5,760 optimized dpi prints put out by the PictureMate’s 540 print nozzles, using 6-color pigments with droplets just 2.5 picoliters in size are spectacular.  (A picoliter is one trillionth of a liter, that’s really tiny, folks). There were no artifacts on any of the prints I made. However, if problems should occur, just zap the nozzles clean with either the printer’s built-in function or by using the Epson supplied Windows and Macintosh software and everything should be fine.

The PictureMate print options include borderless, no borders, 15 different the-kids-are-gonna-drive-you-crazy Disney borders, 2 per sheet wallet-size, 4 per sheet, half page, and yeah!, small thumbnail proofsheets. The PictureMate’s built-in print editing features allow cropping, as well as for auto or manually adjusting, brightness, saturation and sharpness. The cropping feature is basic as crop borders are not individually adjustable and you must take whatever ends up in the adjustable cropping frame. However, when you make a crop, which can be as much as 1/3 the original photo size, the PictureMate automatically scales up the picture so that no white borders appear on the print. Note that one good feature of Google’s no cost Picasa software is that unlike some other photo editing programs, it also automatically scales up a cropped picture and prints it without cropping borders.

Some final words here about a cool, little mentioned, built-in feature of the PictureMate and many other photo printers. Almost all popular make digital cameras include PRINT Image Matching II (P.I.M.), a technology on which Seiko Epson holds the patents that enables cameras and printers to work seamlessly together to produce the best possible prints. In the PictureMate’s Auto Correct mode there is an option for utilizing P.I.M. information saved with your digital photos. Try it. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results. Most popular make imaging software programs, except Picasa, also support PRINT Image Matching. Hey, when you go visit the plastic surgeon, don’t you want that ideal youth captured and edited as accurately as possible?

This article originally appeared in Eons

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