Steve's Digicams
Hardware Reviews

Epson PT-100 PrintOn

Digita-Enabled Printer

Epson PT-100 PrintOn

The Flashpoint Technology folks loaned me a prototype of the soon to be released Epson PrintOn photo printer for evaluation.   You can read the official press release below for all the details.

At first glance it appears to be just another Epson Stylus Photo 700 printer but upon closer examination you see some obvious differences.   There's a large LCD control panel on top, a big blue "Start Print" button and a PCMCIA card slot on the front.   When you power the printer up it plays a little Japanese tune and then "talks" to you.  I've never had a printer do that and was immediately intrigued to see more.



Epson PrintOn PCMCIA card slot


I'm one of those (typical) users that figures a product should be easy enough to use without having to read a manual first.   So, I turn it on and wait for the usual Epson "pump up" cycle to finish and am entertained by the brief music and the female voice saying something like "Put the cartridge in with the data..."   I'm still not sure exactly what she says due to the background noise of the printer pumping up at the same time.

I don't have the printer connected to my computer, it is only plugged into the AC wall socket.   I wait for the Epson to finish its "pump up" cycle which takes about fourty seconds.   All of the readouts on the control panel are flashing as I stick a CompactFlash card (with PCMCIA adapter) full of images into the card slot.   My little geisha girl now says, "Check the settings and press the Start Print button."

The Digita Operating System has analyzed my flash memory card and found the camera images and tells me via the LCD display that there are 18 pictures to print.  At the top of the LCD are the settings for the paper to be used. The Type options are: Photo Paper, Super Matte and Plain Paper. For my printer which is the Japanese model, the Size choices are: A6, 4X6 and A4.   I load up the paper tray with some A4 size Epson glossy photo paper and set the Type and Size options accordingly.

Printing Thumbnails

So far the printer has told me that there are 18 pictures on the flash card but I have no idea what they are.   I scan the control panel and buttons and find one marked "Index" and press it, it blinks.   I press it again and the light stays on steady and under the "Layout" setting I see an icon that looks like a page full of thumbnail images on it.  I now have two choices in the "Set Quality" field called "High" and "Super High" to choose from.   I pick the High setting and press the Start Print button.

PrintOn High mode index page


My little geisha girl now says, "Starting printing, please wait..." and the Epson comes to life and feeds in the paper.   A few moments later a page similar to the above was ejected from the printer with all of my images neatly thumbnailed and numbered.   Doing some quick arithmetic I come to the conclusion that you can get 80 thumbnails on the sheet in this mode.  I now decide to find out the difference between the High and Super High index mode and change the setting and print another thumbnail sheet like this one:

PrintOn Super High mode index page


As you can see the Super High index mode yields a thumbnail sheet with up to 20 larger preview images on it. The small thumbnails are thifty but you can't really see a lot of detail in them, the larger thumbnails give you a much better idea of what the finished prints will look like, especially if you printed the index sheet on glossy photo paper.

Photo Printing

Now that you have identified your images by number you can decide on how to print the individual pictures. You can print borderless photos by using the Epson 4x6 glossy photo paper. When using A4 paper there are a multitude of formats available: Halves (2-up), Quarters (4-up), Thirds (3-up) or Eights (8-up) per sheet.

You can print multiple copies of the same image or using the Range function you can select a group of images to be formatted on a single A4 sheet of photo paper. This is all entered via push button on the top LCD panel and is quite easy to do.

PrintOn Quarters printout

This is an A4 print using the "Quarters" or 4-up option after selecting the range of photo numbers to print. The PrintOn automatically places the images on the sheet with a uniform border around each picture.

Printing Speed

The following data was gathered during actual printing using a flash card full of Nikon Coolpix 950 Fine mode 1600x1200 pictures. The average image size was between 700-900 Kb.

4x6 Single Photos

  • 720dpi (High Quality) -- 2 mins 30 sec
  • 1440dpi (Super High) -- 7 mins 45 secs
A4 Halves (5x7")
  • 720dpi (High Quality) -- 5 mins 27 secs
  • 1440dpi (Super High) -- 18 mins 15 secs
A4 Full (8x10")
  • 720dpi (High Quality) -- 4 mins 45 secs
  • 1440dpi (Super High) -- 17 mins 54 secs
Remember that these times are different from an ordinary Epson Photo printer because the PT-100 printer is doing its own onboard image processing. All test times were with the PT-100's "enhancement" mode enabled. This adds a little more time to process each image as it corrects for minor digital camera brightness, contrast and color balance problems.

Conclusion

I was most impressed with this printer and its standalone capabilities. Unfortunately I was not able to test some of the Digita-specific features as I do not have a Kodak DC220, DC260 or Minolta 1500EX here at this time. What I did find was an extremely easy to use printer that will be of great value to those who are in need of a computer-less solution to printing digital camera images.

The Epson PrintOn PT-100 is a good choice for those who want the best of both worlds. At home it can easily be connected to the computer and functions the same way the standard Stylus Photo 700 does. Away from home it can be used sans computer to produce photo-quality images anywhere you have an AC plug. It uses the same ink cartridges and paper that the Stylus Photo, Photo 700 and Photo EX printers use.

I'm happy to report that the print quality is the same as what I get from my Photo EX. For a first generation printer this one is a definite winner and should be a good selling product when it becomes available here in the U.S. market.



Flashpoint Epson PrintOn Press Release

FlashPoint Technology announced that Epson will ship the first digital photo printer based on Digita™, the same software operating environment that powers the next-generation of digital still cameras. Digita supplies the intelligence necessary to enable this mega-pixel photo printer to edit, filter, template and output high quality images from virtually all digital cameras o all without ever having to connect to a PC.

Digita enables the Epson PT-100 printer to connect to cameras using a wide variety of interface options, including CompactFlash, SmartMedia and full-size PCMCIA cards. Digita also makes the printer compatible with virtually all image file formats, including JPEG and EXIF. And the PT-100's onboard functionality allows photographers to preformat their images and apply intelligent templates and filters directly to their pictures.

"The Epson PT-100 is the first example of how the broad reaching capabilities of the Digita operating environment can empower more than just digital cameras and create complete imaging solutions," said Stephen D. Saylor, executive vice president of FlashPoint Technology. "Users want the ability to instantly print images without having to connect to a PC and without worrying about brand-specific hardware conflicts. Epson has delivered a universally compatible digital imaging solution that addresses these concerns, while creating a new standard for digital imaging printers."

"FlashPoint has provided a platform for the next-generation of digital imaging products. Thanks to Digita, the PT-100 represents the first solution that enables users to instantly share images with their friends, family and business associates, regardless of what kind of camera they have," said Naoaki Yasukawa, manager of digital photo products at Seiko Epson. The PT-100 features 1440 x 720 dpi, and utilizes an intuitive interface and voice prompting to guide the user through the printing process. In addition, the product can output a variety of image sizes and handle a number of paper stocks, from standard bond to glossy. It also connects to any PC or Apple Macintosh computer via parallel or serial interface, and is compatible with all leading graphics applications.




Steve's Digi-Rating

Digi rating Digi rating Digi rating Digi rating Digi rating

I give the Epson PrintOn photo printer a rating of 5 (out of a possible 5) digicams. Combine an Epson Stylus Photo 700 with Digita and add a PCMCIA slot and you have a fantastic standalone photo-quality printer. The print quality and speed is pure Epson, the ease of use comes from the voice-prompted Digita operating system.

Insert a card full of images and hit the Start Print button, no computer necessary - what could be easier...





DC Resource Reviews the PT-100



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