The PictureMate 240 is the middle offering of Epson's three personal photo labs. For £110 -- a little more than the entry-level PictureMate 200 -- you get everything the 200 offers, plus an adjustable preview LCD, faster prints and the ability to crop and make granular image adjustments. It also supports an optional battery pack -- a bonus for travellers.
If you're debating between the PictureMate 200 and the 240, we think the extra features are worth the money. If you've got even more to spend you could always go for the PictureMate 280, which is basically the 240 plus a built-in CD burner. While we found the print quality of the 240 acceptable for snapshots, we preferred the prints produced by the Canon Selphy DS810. Still, the 240 is a great product for casual shooters who want the ability to print photos of 100x150mm (4x6 inches) at a moment's notice.
The PictureMate 240 has the same basic body as the 200, but the control panel is slightly different. The most noticeable change is the inclusion of a 64mm (2.5-inch) adjustable preview LCD. We like this feature because it allows you to optimise your viewing angle for different lighting conditions. The PictureMate 240 loses the handy layout button but includes a Display button that lets you toggle between viewing 1, 6 or 15 photos at a time on the LCD. It has four directional keys plus an OK key for navigating menus. Additionally, it has two soft keys that let you choose options that appear on the screen.
Like the 200, the 240 has two built-in memory card slots on the front that accept most major types of cards. It also has a USB port in the back for printing from PictBridge-enabled cameras or from wireless Bluetooth devices (using an optional Bluetooth adaptor). Additionally, the 240 lets you use the USB port to connect external storage devices such as flash thumbdrives or CD burners. You can back up a memory card to the thumbdrive or to CD, or print images that live on the thumbdrive.
Setting up the PictureMate 240 is exactly like setting up the 200. For PC-free printing, simply plug it in, install the print cartridge and you're ready to go. If you want to take the printer with you without the hassle of carring a power cable, the 240 can run on an optional battery pack. The battery (sold separately) holds enough of a charge to print as many as 140 photos or to stay on standby for about six hours.
The PictureMate 240 adds to the 200's feature set. When selecting photos, you can sort by range or date, which is useful if you're less than diligent about deleting older pictures from your memory cards. Additional layouts are available, too, including 51x51mm (2x2 inches) and 76x76 (3x3 inches). In addition to printing an index sheet, you can print a CD index sheet -- thumbnails of select photos are printed onto a 100x150mm sheet, as well as a guide to where to fold the sheet so it will fit into a CD case.
You also get great photo enhancement features with the 240. Aside from the opaque PhotoEnhance feature, you can manually adjust settings such as sharpness, brightness and saturation, as well as crop photos directly on the printer and correct red eye. If you're feeling creative, you can add frames, though the available frames are limited. You can also decorate a photo, which involves selecting a pre-installed image to add anywhere on your picture. Your options include a dolphin, text (for example, 'Merry Christmas' and 'It's a Boy!'), a giraffe, a sailboat and Father Christmas, among others -- yes, it's rather random.
For paper and ink, you have a choice of Epson's print packs, which come in glossy and matte. The costs are about the same as the per-picture cost for the Canon Selphy DS810, and are less than the cost of using the Kodak EasyShare Printer Dock Series 3 device.
The 240 also improves upon the 200's performance. It printed 100x150mm photos at a rate of 1.24 pages per minute (ppm), which is considerably faster than the 200's rate of 1ppm and even the Canon Selphy DS810's rate of 1.11ppm. Print quality was on a par with that of the 200, with sharp details and good colours, though we did see graininess and the photos could have had more warmth. We liked the warmth and colour of the Canon Selphy DS810 more.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
||Photo speed (ppm)|
Edited by Matthew Elliott
Additional editing by Elizabeth Griffin