Epson's PictureMate PM-400 Personal Photo Lab

Fast and easy photos in a snap

Epson PictureMate PM-400
Photo courtesy of Epson
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Pros:

  • Good-looking prints
  • Prints two sizes, 4x6 and 5x7 inches
  • Supports Wi-Fi Direct for mobile connectivity
  • Prints from multiple sources and media types

Cons:

  • Initial purchase price is high
  • No battery, requires AC power
  • Somewhat big and bulky for what it is

Bottom Line:

This no-muss, no-fuss photo printer churns out good-looking snapshots at two different sizes, but between the cost of the machine itself and the per-page cost of ink (not to mention premium photo paper), this quality and convenience isn’t cheap, but perhaps worth it if that’s what you’re looking for.

Click here to buy Epson’s PictureMate PM-400 Personal Photo Lab at Amazon

Introduction

It’s been a while since About.com has looked at dedicated snapshot printers like the topic of today’s review, Epson’s $249.99-MSRP ($199.99 street) PictureMate PM-400 Personal Photo Lab. It’s called dedicated because it’s designed to print only one or two sizes of photos, just photos, no documents. Compared to the professional-grade photo printers reviewed here (Epson’s SureColor P400 Wide-Format Inkjet Printer comes to mind), this PictureMate is an entry-level, or a hobbyist’s photo printer.

Even so, with its $200 purchase price, it costs more than several of its competitors, but also more than several non-dedicated photo printers, such as Epson’s own Expression XP-830 Wireless Small-in-One Printer, or perhaps Canon’s Pixma MG7720 Photo All-in-One Printer. Both of these photo-optimized AIO’s (and many others) not only print photos in multiple sizes up to at least 8.5x11 inches, but also churn out the occasional business document, as well as make scans and copies.

If, however, all you want to do is print snapshots, easily, and at drug-store quality, the PictureMate PM-400 Personal Photo Lab is a good choice.

Design & Features

The PM-400 is small for a printer but big for a snapshot printer. One reason it’s a bit larger than some competing models is that in addition to the standard 4x6-inch media size, it supports 5x7-inch paper, too.

At 9.8 inches wide, by 6.8 inches from front to back, by 3.3 inches tall when folded up, and weighing only 4 pounds, it’s easy to carry around, but since there’s no battery, you’ll have to take the power cable, too.

When printing, the PM-400 stretches out to 9.8 x 15.1 x 7.9 (W x D x H). In addition to printing from a PC, you can also print from an SD Card or a USB memory drive, as well as PictBridge for printing directly from digital cameras, all of which you can facilitate PC-free via the printer’s 2.7-inch color display. Other connectivity options include Wi-Fi, connecting directly to a single PC via USB, and Wi-Fi Direct, though missing is Near-Field Communication, or NFC, for touch-to-print functionality.

Keep in mind, though, that in order for the PM-400 to access some of these and other mobile connectivity options, it must be connected to the Internet. It’s only possible Internet connection is via Wi-Fi.

Performance, Print Quality, Paper Handling

If you weren’t born into this era, the idea that you can get a detailed quality print in under 60 seconds is most likely titillating, but these little photo printers have been around for a while now and most people who have had any experience with them are probably not all that impressed.

I’ve been doing this a long time, though, and it still impresses me.

In any case, most of my 4x6-inch prints took well under 50 seconds and the 5x7-inch photos came out in well under 60 seconds, all though times were somewhat slower when printing from smartphones. Print quality was quite good, with deference to the quality of the image file itself. In most instances, the PM-400’s photos looked very much like the digital originals.

The print path runs from the back of the printer to the front, with paper loading from the 20-sheet (photo paper) input tray that folds up from the chassis, and printed pages land on your desktop.

Cost Per Photo

This is not a cheap printer to use, from a typical printer’s perspective, but overall, 40 to 50 cents per photo probably isn’t that bad. However, Costco can do your 4x6-inch images much cheaper, but the 5x7’s are only 10 cents more. What you’re paying for with the PM-400 is, of course, convenience.

The End

Obviously, more so than not, these types of printers are designed primarily with the low-tech in mind. The object is to print photographs as easily as you can—convenience, not frugality. From that perspective, this is a terrific little photo printer.

Click here to buy Epson’s PictureMate PM-400 Personal Photo Lab at Amazon