Have you ever wished you could take a picture with your camera and turn it into a 4 X 6 photo right on the spot? Well now you can, it’s just a matter of choosing the right Portable Photo Printer to meet your needs and your budget. There’s just nothing like taking a photo at a family event and turning it into a beautiful photo to share with everyone there. Well we’ve done some research for you and narrowed it down to what we feel is a winning portable photo printer.
The printers we looked at ranged in price from $49.55 to $249.95., Two of the printers we looked at, the Pandigital Portable Photo Printer and the Dell Wasabi Pz310 both use the new ZINK (zero ink) technology. This type of printer uses a special photo paper in which dye crystals are embedded, changing colors when heated to form the image. ZINK technology still has a way to go before it can compete with either inkjet or thermal dye so we don’t recommend these.
One of our favorite portable photo printers is the Epson PictureMate Charm priced at a very resonable $149.99. This new model of a long line of Charm photo printers has a 2.5 inch LCD where as the previous models had a impressively large 3.6 inch LCD. Similarly the older models could print directly from computers, PictBridge cameras, memory cards, and USB memory keys, the Charm leaves USB keys off the list.
That being said, the Charm kicks up the level of photo quality by a small but noticeable notch. The Charms output and quality is a step above what you would get a your local drugstore so that in our opinion makes up for the smaller LCD and not being able to print directly from a USB key.
Speed & Quality
The speed on the Charm is impressive at 42 seconds per 4 X 6 photos, most other small format dedicated photo printers take a minute per photo or more. The Charms speed was almost indentical when using a Compactflash memory card and over a PictBridge connection. Colors are well within a reasonable range for a portable photo printer, a tad better than what you will get at a drugstore as we have said.
Low running cost and long lasting Photos
The Charms photos are both long-lived and rugged with Epson rating them at 200 years in dark storage or 96 years framed behind glass. The key word here is dark, any light will fade a print faster than if it is stored in a photo album that no light can reach. We ran a test once printing on Epson photo paper using original Epson ink and a remanufactured ink cartridge from the top remanufactuer in the USA and taped both to an outside window facing the sun. In about 3 months both photos were so faded it was hard to make out what they were.
Running the Charm is inexpensive, for glossy photos the cost works out to just 25.3 cents each based on the $37.99 price of the print pack that has enough ink for 150 photos. for matte photos the cost is 32.3 cents per photo based on $32.29 cost for enough ink and paper for 100 photos.
This photo printer comes with a 1 year warranty which includes free shpping in both directions and if the company can’t solve the problem by phone, it will send you a replacement printer along with a return shipping label for the non-working unit, not bad.
Physically the Charm is 5.7 by 9.1 by 6.7 inch (HWD) and sports a handle for easy carrying. At 4.9 pounds it may be a little heavy to be carrying around on a regular basis or for long periods of time but these are not items you go on a hike with so this should not be a problem. You can get a rechargeable battery for about $49.99 so you can print without a power cord, which is what you really want with a portable printer. Epson says that a fully charged battery can print about 100 photos which should be more than you would ever need at one event. One last option worth mentioning is it has a bluetooth adapter so you can print from your cell phone or other Bluetooth devices.
So the combination of fast speed, low cost per page, and high quality prints that are both rugged and long-lived puts the Charm in a class all it’s own leaving the competition in the dust. We feel this is a winner, check it out and see if you think the same, we would love to hear your comments on this portable photo printer.