Since snapshot printers are still pretty much 'new technology', they're evolving a lot faster than their desktop brethren. The quality is getting better, they are getting friendlier to use, they print out a lot more per cart, and do it a lot faster. A good case study of this kind of evolution is the Epson PictureMate series.
Though the PM 270 is built around the same bucket design as the previous models in the series, it does have a few refinements that set it apart. For starters, the LCD screen is now a lot bigger at 3.6 inches, the tacky plastic buttons have been replaced by sleek touch-sensitive ones, and the printing speed is much (mind my technical term) zippier!
As expected from a snapshot printer, the PM 270 is perfectly capable of printing without the need to connect to a PC. You can print straight from your camera or any other device that can store images and supports USB connectivity, your memory cards, or even your mobile phone if you've gone in for the optional Bluetooth module. Yep, Barbie needs her accessories, but I guess it's fine as long as it helps to keep the base model's price low.
The LCD display keeps things cheerful and informative while you select print options. Unfortunately, we've been spoiled by the HP Photosmart A626's touchscreen magic, which makes it a hard act to follow for other printers. Still, gimmicks aside, the screen on the PM 270 serves its purpose and serves it well.
Unlike some other snapshot printers, the Epson PM 270 prints only 4x6 inch photo paper. Support for 5x7 inch sheets would have been great, but then I don't feel it's an absolute necessity. Especially considering that the PictureMate printer cartridges come bundled with 4x6 sheets, so you don't have to bother with separate purchases.
The box and the websites boasted a printing speed of 37 seconds per sheet, which seemed a bit far-fetched. The funny thing was that the photo prints in our tests took only 35 seconds per sheet, which is amazing by any standards. For once a company underplays what its product can actually achieve – it's a marketing miracle!
Not only were the printing speeds brilliant, the print quality too was top-notch. Epson blacks have always been reputed for being the deepest in the business, and the PM 270 is no exception. Not only were the blacks perfect, but the colors were rich and deep.
Along with the great colors, we also got some brilliant detail levels in our photo prints. The Epson Micro Piezo print head handles color separation extremely well, as a result of which even the minutest lines looked as detailed as in the original photo.
When it comes to performance, there's no denying that the PM 270 is one of the finest snapshot printers in the market. The 35 seconds per sheet print speed, the rich colors and detail, and the ink economy of 32 prints per cartridge are pretty good by any standards.
Unfortunately it loses out a bit as an overall package. Rs 11,000 (street price) is a bit too much for a snapshot printer these days, especially since the features it offers are pretty standard. So in the end it all comes to the classic choice between quality and value for money. If it's the former you seek, Epson PM 270 will serve you well.
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