Epson PictureMate Flash 280 review: Epson PictureMate Flash 280

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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Prints quickly; print quality is good; a built-in CD burner makes backing up memory cards a breeze.

The Bad Pricey.

The Bottom Line The Epson PictureMate Flash combines the great features of the PictureMate Snap with an added CD burner, but asks a hefty price. We don't think the burner's worth the extra $100, so go with the PictureMate Snap and pack a few USB thumbdrives instead.

7.4 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 8.0
  • Service and support 6.0

The Epson PictureMate Flash represents the top of the line in the company's series of personal photo lab devices. Yet the PictureMate Flash is essentially the same product as the Epson PictureMate Snap with the addition of a CD-R/RW burner. Print speeds as well as print quality are also the same as offered with the PictureMate Snap. (See our PictureMate Snap review for details.) The burner, however, tacks an extra $100 to the PictureMate Snap's original price tag for a hefty total of $300.

The PictureMate Flash shares the same body as the PictureMate Snap, although it's about 1.25 inches taller with the bottom-mounted CD burner. The burner also adds an extra 1.3 pounds for a total carrying weight of 6.6 pounds.

With the burner, you can easily back up the contents of a memory card. Simply insert a memory card into one of the device's built-in slots, and press the Save button. You'll be prompted to insert a blank CD into the slot-loading burner. You can opt to back up all the contents of a memory card, or you can pick and choose the photos you want to burn. Once you insert a CD and press OK, the burn will proceed automatically, and the CD will eject once the burn is completed. You can also print images stored on a CD: insert a CD, select the CD drive as the source of photos, and proceed as you would typically with a memory card or other flash storage device.

While the burn is proceeding, the machine will ask if you'd like to print a CD index. If selected, the printer will generate a sheet of thumbnails, representing the burned images, on 4x6-inch photo paper. Each sheet holds 56 thumbnails with extra space for a handwritten memo. The printer even prints dotted lines to help when trimming to fit into a jewel case.

Convenience aside, is the CD burner really worth the higher price tag? If you plan to use the printer mainly at home and already have a CD burner, the short answer is no. Saving the contents of a memory card to PC before burning is an extra step, but it's not a huge hassle. Even if you plan to tote the photo lab around, we still can't fathom forking over a extra $100 for the burner. Memory card capacities have increased dramatically--thus very few people would actually need the burner to clear a memory card.

What's more, toting the Epson PictureMate Snap and a few USB flash drives is considerably more convenient than dragging around the heavier PictureMate Flash and a handful of blank CDs. If you're looking for a home personal snapshot printer, save yourself the C-note and choose the PictureMate Snap--and put the $100 toward something you really want.

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