PictureMate 500 Small-format Photo Printer – Review

Professional small-format photos the easy way, with a compact portable photo printer roughly the same size as a loaf of bread and engineered like a nuclear powered toaster! It makes digital photography easy and fun for all the family, even the Windows print driver is comparatively simple. This is practically the swan-song for the once lucrative but frustrating and time consuming commercial photo processing market.

The PictureMate 500 is marketed as a printing accessory for any digital camera, it supports direct printing from PictBridge cameras, popular digital camera technologies and a computer is optional for most printing tasks, however it can not execute complex manipulations, such as red eye reduction.

Slightly more expensive and 40% faster than Epson’s original PictureMate printer, this updated model incorporates portability with the stylish look and well-designed functionality of its forefather with an improved menu system to boot.

It recognises JPEG and uncompressed TIFF files automatically, resolutions ranging from 80 X 80 to 4600 X 4600, printing from a camera, a memory card, directly as a printer or from a camera phone via the optional Bluetooth adapter (RRP £59.99); I just use my own inexpensive adaptor.

The stunning quality really is what makes this a good system, everything else is just very nice, if you want to see any slight vertical banding or ink droplets (flaws found on all inkjet printers) you have to look really closely, but unlike other inkjet-based dedicated photo printers which use a 3 colour process, you get professional small-format photos not just photo sized printouts.

It uses an exclusive archival 6 pigment (cyan, yellow, magenta, black, red, and blue) and hi-gloss Micro Piezo inkjet technology contained within a single-piece cartridge which means the prints are of better quality and last two to four times longer than the leading brands of inkjet based photo printer models.

Borderless 4×6-inch (15cm x 10cm), printing at a resolution of 5,760-by-1,440DPI, takes a little under 90 seconds. The print size is limited to 6x4in and it prints relatively slowly compared to regular inkjet models, but the prints have a rated lifespan of 104-years, as opposed to just 75 years for the standard chemical process offered by commercial developers.

It is controlled by 12 command buttons scattered around a 2.4-inch colour LCD (320×240 pixels), it automatically optimises each photo for colour and quality all of which makes this printer a formidable compact personal photo lab.

As well as a set of defaults, it has a range of fun effects, such as adding one of 16 frames, or printing in black and white or sepia tones. You can also zoom in on, and rotate, a specific area, cropping the rest of the image from your photo.

Its LCD screen is good because it allows simple operation without having to have a PictBridge enhanced camera and being restricted to using the camera’s display, where you either use the camera to control printing or ‘mark’ all the images beforehand from the cameras interface, which I find annoying.

The price per photo rivals traditional high street processing. Prints cost approximately 22p each, this may sound relatively high, but it’s quite reasonable compared to other dedicated photo printers – especially dye-sublimation models.

As a comparison, taking your images to Tesco costs 10p per print, but takes an hour regardless of the number of images. My local Sava-centre charge 35p per print (5-colour process), but this takes about 50 seconds each;

Good points:

1) Competitive and cost effective, water, smudge resistant fade free, durable and professional small-format photographs in minutes at a resolution of up to 5760 dpi. (saturation, skin tones, details all good).

2) The economical and convenient consumable packs contain cartridge and paper for approximately 100 glossy 10x15cm photo prints is sold in a combo pack.

3) The 6 printing pigments are contained within a single-piece cartridge.

4) PictBridge enhanced but does not require any specific technologies except for compatibility with one of the supported storage media formats.

5) Easy to use 3 step printing process with an intuitive interface and an improved navigation structure for the printer’s menu system.

6) Selecting only photos on the storage media based on date of creation.

7) Printing and copying directly to/from CD-R/RW, ZIP disk or Flash media.

8) The ability to automatically print various photo sizes including passport sized photos (I haven’t yet attempted to use this feature in anger, but I see no reason why the passport office should refuse the product – the image is up to you. 🙂

9) The largest possible print size is limited to 6x4in, conversely there are none of the paper handling problems associated with multiple paper sizes.

Bad points:

The only negative comments I have are quite superficial and it should be noted that we computer science students seem to have a genetic propensity for pointless trivialities!

Generic issues:

1) It comes with 20 sheets of photo paper but the ink cartridge prints 100 photos. Because the paper input tray holds 20 sheets, that is all they supply, so buy an Epson PicturePack (Includes Photo Cartridge and 100 photo paper sheets RRP £21.50) or an 10 sheet pack or glossy photo paper (RRP £02.50)!

2) The rechargeable battery is not included (AAP £49.99), I would have paid a bit more if it was. Okay, if this wasn’t being marketed as a portable system then fine it is an option, but it is and have you ever bought a laptop without a battery? I have thus not located a supplier within the United Kingdom that sells the optional battery.

3) No USB cable is included (RRP £2.50), maybe they think its unnecessary, but they do supply the computer drivers and have you ever bought a printer without a data cable? I could understand no batteries but no USB cable?

Hardware issues:

1) Like all photo printers I’ve used, it doesn’t automatically resample images, the relative resolution of a digital photo (ie its total output size) is slightly larger than the photo paper so approximately 1.5 cm around the perimeter of the photo is not printed (note that the area to be removed is indicated by a border when previewing photos individually).

2) Media devices can not be accessed concurrently, not really a bad thing but annoying as I would like to setup a print run from 3 memory cards then walk away for a coffee.

3) Depending on the nature of your photos, the ink cartridge can, under special conditions, only last for a little as about twenty pictures. I regularly get 88-95 prints per cartridge, but I tend to do my photo adjustments with Paint Shop Pro before printing otherwise dark photos

4) The cover protecting the media card slots is slightly adynamic and just not very robust,

5) Unlike the media card slots, there is no cover protecting the EXT/Print and SUB ports, also these ports are quite deeply recessed into the body thus preventing use of less compact flash media drives.

Printing issues:

1) When printing photos, the LCD screen displays the total sheets to be printed and the number remaining, I would like information about the estimated lapse / time remaining. It would also be nice if it displayed the photo being printed as a background for the screen (like it does for the top level menu screen)..

2) Despite any claims by Epson, printing times are variable depending on factors such as ink level, complexity of the job and photo resolution. When printing groups of photos the time taken averages out to about 37 seconds for standard 5 megapixel prints. Printing 4 different Passport size photos takes about 1 minute and 64 seconds and index prints (20 photos per sheet) takes about 1 minute and 5 seconds (not including ink charging time with is about 20 seconds) .

3) The index view does not show how many sheets are required to complete the total job, this is normally 1 per print but in the case of index, passport and double formats this is not true. This information is included when previewing photos individually.

4) This may sound like a strange complaint but, apart from photo enhancement being set to ‘off’ by default, there are no economy or resolution options. You could say it’s a photo printer, so why create ‘bad’ prints? However, I often want to quickly print a ‘throw-away’ photo on cheap paper. You can get economy paper so why waste ink on poor quality paper (and remembering the less ink you use, the quicker the process)?

5) Good computer driver interface, but does not include all the photo effects & options available from the printers interface. Note that the host applications native printing configuration overrides critical orientation, page area and aspect ratio settings which need to be manually adjusted.

6) The preview option of the computer interface does not allow changes to the settings, you can only cancel. Although this isn’t hard, it is slightly annoying if the host application does not save the last used settings so you must then start again from the default settings.

Interaction Issues:

1) Photos are displayed in descending alphabetic order according to the photo file names, thus photos from a camera will seem to be displayed in the order they were taken, but this is totally dependent on the naming conventions of your camera. This can seem quote disorienting with large volumes of photos organised with real file names.

Most often photos are named with a short prefix then an incremental value equal to the total number of photos taken since it was first used.

2) Cropping photos must be done one at a time, ie there is no way to apply cropping to a set of range of photos, annoying as this is often required for groups of photos and is time consuming.

3) when printing photos with frames, they can not be rotated or cropped and there is no preview when printing photos with frames from a media card, as opposed to the 16 default frames where there is. This means the manipulation must be done elsewhere first.

4) After scrolling through a set of photos and then printing a single image, the index preview returns to the first image in the set, not from the previous position, quote disorienting with large volumes of photos.

5) Scrolling through a set of photos can start at the beginning or from the end of the group but the index view could be more efficient if there was a way to ‘skip’ forward and backwards through each set of 9 photos, in addition to scrolling forward and backwards through the photos individually.

6) There is no way to filter photo formats, all JPEG and TIFF images are shown, I would like to select which types are displayed. Also I would like it to identify any ‘unpaintable’ images (ie too big/small/wrong resolution), instead of ignoring them.

Software Issues:

1) The directory structure of the storage media is ignored by the preview and selection displays, ie all photos are grouped together regardless of their physical location within the storage media.

A file explorer type view or some separation between photo sets would be nice. Note that the display can be sorted by date, but that’s not quite helpful enough for a large volume of photos.

2) The date & time stamp, colour, size and position are not configurable, annoying if photos happen to include yellow, orange or red in the botton right area (depending on orientation). There is no format for a 2 digit year and the most compact format is american ie yyyy.mm.dd, (ie backwards and full stop (not slash) delimited)

3) Depending on the relative resolution, photo previews are not generated instantly and initially produce a low-res picture on the LCD but refines quickly – not a real issue but this can be time consuming if scrolling through many preview displays looking for a photo.

4) There is no provision to organise or manipulate the images on the storage media, since the directory structure is totally ignored, but I would like the ability to selectively delete groups by date or selected photos and the ability to format the media, indeed this can be done from the camera but that’s not always possible, I often find someone has taken the media reader and the camera is in use.


Even with the above trivialities, the Epson PictureMate 500 (PictureMate Deluxe in the US) is an extraordinary product that anyone can use. RRP approximately £125.35, 256x154x167mm (2.8kg).

I think this is the most affordable, portable photo printer system on the market. Currently I give it 9.9/10 but I would give it 10/10 if Epson would fix the navigation and preview ‘issues’. I admit it is likely that it would not be commercially viable if all the above ‘issues’ were to be addressed; but most could be easily ‘fixed’ by making relatively small alterations to the firmware.

Box Contents:

Epson PictureMate 500 Personal Photo Lab;

Power Cords;

PictureMate Photo Cartridge;

PictureMate Photo Paper – 20 sheets;

User’s Guide Kit: CD-ROM and User’s Manuals;

Main Features:

Light with easy carry handle;

DC and optional lithium-ion battery power;

Optional Blue tooth print adapter;

PictBridge enhanced operation;

Not dependent a PictBridge camera;

PIM & ExifPrint complaint;

Brightness, saturation, sharpness correction;

Photo enhance, rotate, interference control;

Show/Print index prints;

Special Features:

Show/Print by date;

Printing with/without borders;

Printing 2 photos per sheet with/without borders;

Printing black & white, sepia tone (old-fashioned look);

Printing with/without time & Date stamp (orange);

Digital zoom (cropping);

View memory media as a slide show;

Supported storage media formats:

CompactFlash Card;

Memory Stick;

Secure Digital Card;

SmartMedia Card;

xD Picture Card;

Memory Stick Pro;



The New MacBook Pro

The brand new MacBook Pro is one of the most popular brand new computers ever, and it has a lot of things to adore. You can now put to bed any reservations about using a Mac. The following are four good reasons we are very enthusiastic about the latest Mac.

It’s Turbo Quick

The fifteen and seventeen inch designs include the fastest dual-core CPUs available. Apple’s assessments demonstrated the latest Mac is an astonishing 50% faster compared to its’ predecessor. As a result of Apple’s unique Turbo Boost function, the speed of a single, or even both, cores may be accelerated from the fast 2.66GHz to an astonishing 3.33GHz.

It Offers Extraordinary Graphics

If you love the idea of experiencing every one of your photos and videos come alive, or if you like watching films or television shows using your laptop, you will find it hard to tear your self off of MacBook Pro’s LED backlit display. Both the fifteen as well as seventeen inch versions include the brand new NVIDIA graphics chip, which is super fast. Add NVIDIA with Turbo Boost, and you’ve got a thing that is utterly amazing.

Amazingly Long Battery Life and an Exceptional Efficiency Score

With an efficiency rating that beats the previous MacBook by 30%, MacBook Pro is truly a part of the green movement.

Moreover, the newest Pro is able to travel wherever, since the battery runs for ten hours on a single charge. I had been fortunate to get a half-dozen hours from what I had before, and really often discovered I could not get through a single day without looking for a power supply somewhere. Consider what you are able achieve with a 10 hour battery! This must be one of the Pro’s most attractive functions.

Besides keeping a charge for an incredible amount of time, MacBook Pro includes a battery that can last for five years. By the time the battery is just about to be replaced, I’ll probably have a new computer – forget about paying $100 and up on a fresh battery every couple of years! The only disadvantage to the new battery design is that if you ever have to replace it, you are going to need to get a specialist to do it right for you. Do not attempt to do it yourself.

MacBook Pro is Extremely Slender and Lightweight

The newest MacBook Pro may be a world champion in regard to time to get the job done, but it is very lightweight. The thirteen inch design weighs just 4.5 pounds, though the 15 and 17 inch versions are not significantly heavier. One particular source of the Pro’s reduced weight is actually battery weight – the brand new lithium polymer MacBook Pro battery is actually lighter in weight versus the older lithium ion batteries all of us once depended on.

All three MacBook Pros are a tad under an inch thick, in case you can recall your very first mobile computer, that is an unbelievable size decrease. So, in case you’re at all like me, you’ll appreciate how much less difficult it is to carry your job along with you – no matter where you go.

Since you are going to pay more to get a brand new MacBook Pro than you will spend on a number of other comparably sized laptops on the market, you will discover that the features and benefits overshadow the price – particularly if you depend on a laptop to perform the bulk of your work.

Finding The Best Free Photo Editing Software

Trying to find the best free photo editing software? Please don’t ignore open-source and also no cost image editing software programs. Several such as GIMP are really very popular. For straightforward photo editing, totally free online picture editors such as Picasa could be all you need.

You can actually re-touch, resize and improve nearly every part of your digital images with user friendly free picture editing software. A few of the top ones are discussed in this post.

Listed below are several of the best free photo editing software tools that I have used to create images for my online websites. Try them out for yourself.


GIMP is known as a really versatile graphics editing software package. GIMP is billed as an open source alternative option to Adobe PhotoShop.

The software program works well with all sorts of images, whether it is photographs, icons, sketches, fonts, and even layered graphic layouts. Having cross-platform capability and support for an exhaustive number of file formats, GIMP is a worthwhile option for novice to more advanced graphic editing projects, although somewhat limited in its capacity to deal with print files.

Even though it’s a free program, GIMP really delivers over and above many other free software programs. Taking into consideration the high cost of proprietary photo editing software, it really is a surprise that such a high quality program is actually readily available to everyone.


Picasa is a free picture editing application from Google that you can use to organize and manage the many images you have saved on your disk drive. Besides letting you deal with your photos, Picasa also can be used to complete simple edits and provides you with a lot of choices for sharing all of those images with other people.

Picasa offers quite a bit for a freely available application. Even if you use only a few of its functions, it really is worth the fairly short time period it will take to become comfortable with the application.

Picasa lets you make basic edits to your pictures, such as: cropping, fine-tuning colors, contrast, lighting effects, shadows, as well as alignment. You are able to fix redeye and even add special effects to photos, like for example touch up, sepia, black and white, soft focus and a lot more.


FotoFlexer is an internet based editing program that helps make editing and enhancing your digital images a lot easier. The application works with a number of online photo websites, including Flickr, Picassa, PhotoBucket, as well as some others.

FotoFlexer may be the world’s most innovative online photo editing system, giving the capability and performance of more costly desktop image editing software programs absolutely free to any and all users. FotoFlexer integrates with social networking sites, online image sharing websites along with other image-based social networks to make it possible for users to easily and quickly find all of their photos for editing and enhancing, no matter where their photos are stored.

FotoFlexer affords users the most overall flexibility of any existing photo editing program, allowing them to change their digital images, online pictures or even add real-time Webcam special effects.

FotoFlexer also offers a really easy to use graphical user interface. For basic importing, resizing, and then storing back to your personal computer, this might be the least complicated and best option available.


Imageforge is a drawing as well as image editing program. It can extract photos from digital cameras in addition to scanning devices. The totally free version of the software package includes a number of useful filters and special effects, and it’s also pretty simple to work with.

ImageForge Standard is a total editing system for generating or enhancing pictures, photos, basic animated graphics, filmstrips and also photo albums.

Despite the fact that it’s a teaser application for ImageForge PRO, the ImageForge free product is actually a very highly recommended application also. Since it comes complete with editing in addition to painting tools, ImageForge allows you to bring in photos from digital cameras and also scanning devices for making slideshows and photo albums, even while also providing special effects filters.

Try out these products if you are looking for the best free photo editing software. You won’t be disappointed.