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The PictureMate Snap has the same basic body as the Pal's, but the control panel is slightly different. The most noticeable change is the inclusion of a 2.5-inch adjustable preview LCD. We like this feature because it allows you to optimize your viewing angle for different lighting conditions. The PictureMate Snap loses the handy layout button but includes a Display button that lets you toggle between viewing 1, 6, or 15 photos at a time on the LCD. It has four directional keys plus an OK key for navigating menus. Additionally, it has two soft keys that let you choose options that appear on the screen.
Like the Pal, the Snap has two built-in memory card slots on the front that accept most major types of cards, and a USB port in the back for printing from PictBridge-enabled cameras or from wireless Bluetooth devices (using an optional Bluetooth adapter). Additionally, the Snap lets you use the USB port to connect external storage devices such as flash thumbdrives or CD burners. You can back up a memory card to the thumbdrive or to CD, or print images that live on the thumbdrive.
Setting up the PictureMate Snap is exactly like setting up the Pal: for PC-free printing, simply plug it in, install the print cartridge, and you're ready to go. If you want to take the printer with you without the hassle of toting a power cable, the Snap can run on an optional battery pack. The $50 battery (sold separately) holds enough of a charge to print as many as 140 photos, or can stand by for about six hours.
The PictureMate Snap adds to the Pal's feature set. When selecting photos, you can sort by range or date, which is useful if you're less than diligent about deleting older pictures from your memory cards. Additional layouts are available, too, including U.S. passport, jumbo wallet, 2x2, and 3x3. In additional to printing an index sheet, you can print a CD index sheet: thumbnails of select photos are printed onto a 4x6 sheet, as well as a guide to where to fold the sheet so it will fit into a CD jewel case. You can use it as a reference to which images live on a CD.
You also get great photo enhancement features with the Snap. Aside from the opaque PhotoEnhance feature, you can manually adjust settings such as sharpness, brightness, and saturation, as well as crop photos directly on the printer and correct red eye. If you're feeling creative, you can add frames, though most of the available frames are Disney-themed. You can also decorate a photo, which involves selecting a preinstalled image to add anywhere on your picture. Your options include a dolphin, text (for example, Merry Christmas and It's a Boy!), a giraffe, a sailboat, and Santa Claus, among others. (Yes, it's a little bit random.)
For paper and ink, you have your choice of Epson's print packs, which come in glossy and matte. Glossy prints cost about 25 cents for a 4x6 print, while matte works out to about 33 cents per print. These costs are about the same as the per-picture cost for the Canon Selphy DS810, and considerably less than the cost of using the Kodak Easy Share Printer Dock Series 3 device.
The Snap also improves upon the Pal's performance. It printed 4x6 photos at a rate of 1.24 pages per minute (ppm), which is considerably faster than the Pal's rate of 1.0ppm and even the Canon Selphy DS810's rate of 1.11ppm. Print quality was on a par with that of the Pal: sharp details and good colors, though we did see graininess, and the photo could have had a bit more warmth to it. We liked the warmth and color of the Canon Selphy DS810 better.
Epson backs the PictureMate line with a one-year limited warranty. Phone tech support is available Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. PST, though it's a toll call. If you would rather, you can e-mail your question to Epson's tech support; they promise to respond via e-mail within one business day. The company's Web site offers downloadable drivers and manuals as well as FAQs.
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