Pros / The printer has a high resolution and prints in vivid colors – its photos were some of the best we saw in our testing.
Cons / It has a single four-color ink cartridge, and you have to replace all the inks at once, even if only one color has run dry.
Verdict / The Epson PictureMate PM-400 is our favorite compact snapshot printer. It prints great-looking photos, has a good per-photo value and comes with several easy-to-use features.
The Epson PictureMate PM-400 is a compact photo printer that creates good-quality 4 x 6 and 5 x 7 photos and has a design that makes printing convenient and easy. Large-format printers may have more print-size options and more robust media support, but the PM-400 matched them in quality when we printed standard 4 x 6 images. If you want the best home photo printer for simple snapshots, the PictureMate PM-400 might be it.
Of the photo printers we tested for our review, the PictureMate PM-400 stood out by producing some of the best high-quality photos of the bunch. Like its larger siblings from Epson, the printer has 5760 x 1440 resolution, which easily surpasses other small photo printers. Though limited to smaller 4 x 6 and 5 x 7 photos, every one we printed had superb quality, with sharp detail under high magnification, bright colors and true-to-life skin tones. The prints were almost entirely error free, with a single pinprick-size ink void in one photo. It’s also one of the fastest printers, with 4 x 6 photos printing in and average of 39 seconds each – this is faster than all but one model in our review.
The PictureMate PM-400 uses a single ink cartridge, which contains black, cyan, magenta and yellow ink. It’s sold almost exclusively in package deals with photo paper, and the combination of ink and paper is estimated to yield 100 prints. Refill packs sell for $32.99, which works out to a cost of about 33 cents per photo. It isn’t as affordable as a standard inkjet with multiple cartridges, but that is the lowest per-photo cost we saw among snapshot printers. This estimate may not be correct since photo printing is so ink intensive and use varies widely based on the individual photos, but the fact that Epson pairs the cartridge with 100-sheet packs of photo paper means there’s a pretty high likelihood you’ll get roughly 100 prints.
One problem with multicolor cartridges is that when one color runs dry, you need to replace them all. For example, printing black-and-white images chews through black ink rather quickly, and even if the other inks are unused, you have to replace all four colors at the same time.
This is also the only portable photo printer that prints photos larger than 4 x 6. It also prints 5 x 7 photos, so you can enjoy slightly larger prints, suitable for small frames. The printer works with other brands of photo paper, but since the ink refills are almost always bundled with the necessary photo paper, it’s unlikely you will need buy any separately.
Measuring 9.8 x 15.1 x 7.9 inches and weighing just 4 pounds, you can take the printer with you on vacation to print photos after a day of sightseeing. However, it’s not built for use on the go, since it doesn’t have a battery.
Because it’s made for standalone printing without a PC, this compact printer does have a preview display built in. You can connect to the printer over Wi-Fi Direct from your smartphone or tablet using Epson’s iPrint app, as well as print from USB storage or an SD media card. You can also plug a PictBridge-enabled camera directly into the printer.
Epson’s one-year warranty covers the PictureMate PM-400’s parts and labor, while tech support is available via phone, live chat and email. Online resources include a user manual and FAQs section that answers common questions about the printer’s features and operation.
- Snapshot Print Quality
- Snapshot Print Speed
- Battery Life (Photos Per Charge)
The Epson PictureMate PM-400 may not have the high-end features of the large-format printers that dominate our review, but it is easily our favorite compact printer. With excellent print quality, simple controls, and a variety of convenient features and connectivity options, the little PictureMate PM-400 is the best personal photo printer we reviewed.