Epson PictureMate Charm Snapshot Printer: Basic and Affordable
At a Glance
The aptly named Epson PictureMate Charm snapshot printer gets by on just that: It does what it does nicely--though not very quickly. Priced at a midrange $150 (as of 11/3/09), it costs the same as the HP Photosmart A646 Compact Photo Printer but is somewhat less versatile. On the other hand, it offers better print quality for a cheaper cost of consumables.
The PictureMate Charm required anywhere from 54 to 70 seconds to print each of our 4-by-6-inch test prints, but they were worth the wait. It produced flesh tones that looked healthy and normal, it handled both fast-motion and landscape shots with aplomb, and it balanced lights and darks evenly in monochrome images. The on-board editing options are limited to a few layouts, borders, and automated corrections based on image type (such as a night scene or a landscape). If you install the printer on a PC, you can do more using the bundled Easy PhotoPrint application, which offers a wealth of editing, customizing, and printing options.
The features on this snapshot printer are basic but well executed. It has a 20-sheet input tray for just 4-by-6-inch media; by contrast, the HP Photosmart A646 can take three different sizes. Sheets exit onto the flip-out front panel. Inside the front panel you'll find two media slots for CompactFlash, Memory Stick, SD Card, and XD-Picture Card. A PictBridge port is in back. A Bluetooth option costs $39.
When you insert a media card into the printer, on-screen prompts walk you through the process of choosing and adjusting an image before you print it. The 2.5-inch, tiltable color LCD works with a row of eight buttons, all of which are labeled and largely intuitive. It's just a bit hard to tell how to cancel or back out of an option sometimes; the Stop/Clear button handles all such matters, but I was looking for a Back button.
The ink prices are great, and one of the highlights of Epson snapshot printers in general. The machine ships with a starter ink cartridge that prints up to 20 images. The PM 225 Compact Photo Printer PictureMate 200 Series Print Pack produces up to 150 photos using the included ink cartridge and paper. At $38 a pack, that's a cool 25 cents per photo--better than all other brands of snapshot printer we've tested.
The Epson PictureMate Charm is not as versatile as other snapshot-printer contenders, but it functions well at what it does. It's also cheap to buy and refill, which is a trade-off worth considering.