Review: Epson Picturemate Dash

Just in time for Christmas, I’ve had the opportunity to review a personal photo printer, the Epson Picturemate Dash. I take photos semi-professionally, but I’ve always sent my photos to a lab to get processed, so reviewing a photo printer was especially exciting — and convenient — for me. I decided to try it out on some holiday photos from a trip to Mexico I took in May.

Now, let’s get a few technicals things out of the way. The Picturemate Dash is a compact inkjet printer that’s designed with the traveller in mind. It’s about the size of a lunch box, and, according to my bathroom scale, it weighs 4 lbs — though oddly, it feel heavier than that. It’s the kind of unit you could easily fit in a suitcase, though seeing as I am typically a backpacker-type traveller, I don’t know that I would. And even if I did bring a suitcase, I’d probably opt for an extra couple pairs of shoes rather than a printer. But the point I’m getting at here is that it’s easily transferable if you don’t mind the extra weight in your luggage.

%Gallery-11726%Like a kid on Christmas day, I excitedly set out to put the printer together and try it out. It was startlingly easy to put together — I didn’t even need the instructions and trust me, I am a certifiable techno-dummy. Really, all you need to do is put in the cartridge, plug it in, add some paper and you’re pretty much set to go. There’s also a battery pack and as long as that’s charged, you don’t even need to find a plug.

As for getting your photos to the printer, there are a few options. The easiest one is to simply plug your memory card into the unit. Now, I’m a Photoshop junky so it’s pretty rare that I would ever go for this option–I almost always run my photos through some sort of processing first–but if you don’t edit your photos, you can print them instantly. I chose option 2, which involves uploading my processed photos from my computer to a memory stick and plugging that into the printer — this method also works with surprising ease. The third option is to hook the computer up to the printer directly using a USB cable. The photos are quick to load — from my memory card, I loaded 450 largest-size JPEGs in a matter of seconds, which is much faster than they load on my laptop.

Once your photos are up, they appear on the surprisingly large LCD screen that folds into the printer then you’re not using it. Said screen displays your photos one at a time — you go through them and specify the quantity you want of each, hit ok and voila — it prints. And if you want to print one copy of multiple photos, you don’t need to go through all of them — it’s easy to select all using the menu button.

Speaking of the menu, there are a number of things you can do to your photos — you can add a date stamp, add a border, etc. But I like my prints plain and simple so I didn’t bother with any of those.

Epson sent me two types of photo paper — glossy and matte. Both were of high quality and once they came out the printer, it would honestly be really difficult to discern them from a professional print. The colours were vivid, and the images turned out as sharp as they did on my computer. My only complaint is that my printed photos were highly saturated compared to what I saw on my screen, but that’s a whole other issue for pro photographers that involves calibrating the monitor to the printer — which, for this purpose, I didn’t even attempt to do.

Enough chit-chat — here’s a summary:

Things I liked:

  • It’s super simple to use and it’s fast.
  • It’s inexpensive — you can get one for about $99
  • The prints are vivid, sharp and professional-looking

Things I wasn’t too crazy about:

  • It wouldn’t hurt if the design was a bit sleeker — It really does look like a lunch box
  • While the unit itself is inexpensive, the paper and ink packs cost $37.99 for 150 photos.
  • The 4 x 6 size is a little limiting, particularly since they were too small for my favourite cheap Ikea frames.

All in all, it’s a great little printer for personal use, and I’ll be honest in saying that I am a little sad that I have to give it up!