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Epson PictureMate Pal PM200

>> Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The PictureMate Pal resembles a small, high tech picnic basket, complete with pivoting handle and basket lid. The lid flips up to reveal a 2 inch color LCD and a few buttons, and the lid also doubles as the paper input support. One of the buttons, labeled Open, opens a panel on the front of the printer. This panel conceals two memory card slots and does double duty as the output tray.

The unit measures 8.5 inches wide, 6 inches deep, and 5.7 inches tall, all folded up, and weighs only 5.3 pounds. Its handle and small size make it portable, but you'll have to carry along the included AC adapter and power cord, which can be unwieldy. (The Snap and Flash versions both have optional internal batteries for truly hassle free portability.)

The other buttons include power, menu, Select All, OK, cancel, print, forward and back buttons for navigating the menu or scrolling through pictures, and a layout button that toggles through your layout options.

The memory card slots accept all major types of memory cards, though some require an adapter. In the back of the printer lives a USB port for printing from PictBridge enabled cameras.

The Snap and Flash versions allow you to use the USB port for connecting external storage devices, but the Pal does not.

Setting up the PictureMate Pal is a simple task, whether you are using it with or without a PC.

If you want to do PC free printing, simply plug in the power adapter, insert the ink cartridge, and power up. The first time you do this, you'll have to wait a few minutes for the ink cartridge to charge. To print, simply insert a memory card and follow the instructions on the LCD. If you want to print all of the pictures on the card, just hit the Select All button, choose how many copies of each image you want (you have to print the same number of each photo), and hit the green print button.

If you want to pick and choose, scroll through the images using the arrow keys. You can print images one at a time as you look at them or scroll through the entire batch (changing image settings and the number of copies as you go) and print all your selected images in one fell swoop.

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