Epson introduced its PictureMate range for 4x6 photo-sized printing over a year ago, and we had lots of praise for its tiny dimensions, sturdy carry handle and ease of use. The PictureMate 100 has lost some advanced features, but it's even easier to use and costs under £100.
At only 2.7kg, the 100 is extremely portable. The colour LCD display and simple button layout allow you to make adjustments from ink levels and auto-correct to colour effects and print-head alignment. The pull-down panel on the righthand side reveals support for pretty much all storage card formats and a flap round the back shows support for an optional rechargeable lithium battery. There's also support for PictBridge, so you can connect a camera direct to it, and an optional Bluetooth dongle.
We find it bizarre that Epson has stuck with its own six-colour inkjet technology rather than opting for thermal dye transfer, which is used in most 4x6 photo printers and can often give better results. Nevertheless, the proof of the pudding is in the eating - and this printer can knock out tasty images. Detail was a little lacking but the colours rendered were spot-on.
According to Epson, the bundled photo cartridge offers an optimised 5,760x1,440dpi and can print 135 snaps at a cost of £29. This makes running costs only 22p per print. The only down side is the slow printing - we went 20 seconds over the claimed 91 - and Epson's bundled Premium Glossy photo paper, which doesn't have a protective plastic coating. You'll have to be careful with your favourite snaps.