Monday, 4 April 2011

Review: Essence

Finally my Essence review! I was really excited about this machine coming out as it was the improved version of the Bambi-na which made some big leaps in design and technology. So did Essence live up to my expectations?

The inside of the machine uses round lights like the Bambi-Na but fewer and larger...
Essence lights
Once inside you have the usual skin tone options, eye size options and course options, I actually missed taking the picture of the course options but one used brighter colours and one more neutrals and golds. We chose the neutrals one ("Rich" maybe?)

Eye sizes
The frames are divided into normal, aura and play. As ever the "play" ones are the most interesting!
Small frames

Long frames
You can only choose up to two long frames and four small ones. As the small ones are hard for many people to fit in, the machine is better when there's just two of you. Like the Bambi-na you get to take a final picture to make a collage, but the Essence lets you choose which of your other purikura goes in the collage and in which order.
Collage options
You just have to be careful and not do what I did and accidentally have the same picture twice, I didn't even notice until later!
Another major improvement over the Bambi-na is the name tags like BF Manual. You can enter your name in hiragana and it will create a variety of name stamps in hiragana and romaji. This poses the same problem for foreign names as BF Manual, many of them don't work well in romaji. We've decided on nicknames that work well enough!
Japanese names
Foreign nicknames
The newest machines have this "one-shot graffiti" option with pre-decided frames for the indecisive or when you run out of time, I guess they'd be good if you run out of time but you do kinda run the risk of everybody having exactly the same prints and taking the fun and creativity out of it!
One-shot options
You can build your own stamps with this screen, you combine the beginning and end (blood type, star sign, phrases or names) and the background you like...
Build your own stamps
Here's the stamps for the different events you might be taking purikura for, date, shopping, live, etc. I like this kind of development, it shows that the makers are actually doing their market research!

Event stamps
 There's also a nice little section for anniversary stamps (I added English to the picture click to enlarge) you can choose love or birthday versions. Put in either the birth date or the date you got together and the machine will calculate how old you are or how long you've been dating and makes stamps with (or without) your names...

This is a nifty little section that also can be found on a few other new machines where you can create your own picture stamps. It works like this:
1.Bring up the purikura you want to make frames from and touch one of the empty frames (this machine has names on the frames too)
2. Put the frame on the main picture like a stamp and SLIDE it into position, when you let go it will create the stamps so be careful!
3. Bring up the purikura you want to stamp and use the new framed stamp as a normal stamp!
Make your own face stamps!

While we we editing I noticed this section for making little mini gifs for your blog, when I went to download the pictures the gifs weren't there. I can only assume that they are unavailable for the iPhone.

Blog gif options
This machine also has two individual options for layouts, so that's great for two people but would be difficult to sort out for more than two. The layout is split into two sections each, so if you don't want the collage you can get more pictures instead. The grey areas in the top section are where you can choose which picture you want to be big. If you choose one of those layouts you get another screen to choose your big picture.
Layout options
Picture selection
One of the big points of this machine is the way it prints out, which unfortunately proved impossible take a decent picture of! It's shinier than the usual pictures, but not in a glittery way. More like a pearly sheen over the whole thing. It's called Platinum Sheet and the blurb says it's more grown-up and beautiful. I like it! The pictures look a bit classier with it.

Another thing that I remember from using this machine when it was on a location test was that it made my hair look really orangey...

This time my hair looked fine, so I can think of three reasons

1. They changed the settings after the location test
2. We took the other course this time so maybe the more vivid course has stronger colours
3. There was something in the massive amount of hairspray I had on that made it go orange!

Anyway, overall while I like some of the features I still think I get prettier pictures from the Bambi-na. It might have been the natural course, or just the frames we chose but the picture weren't the best.

You also get to choose between two free gifts for this machine, false eyelashes or a little cotton set.

Good points: great for two people, iPhone compatible, name stamps, choosing your own collage, face stamps, good skin tone, platinum sheet,

Bad points: not good for multiple people, frames could be better, the focus is on the new things so the regular stamps weren't that spectacular, kinda so-so pictures in the end


  1. OMG... You review these things! This is GLORY. I've only done it a few times. Typically when I'm showing friends from abroad around Japan. They are so intricate. Something about them totally hit the tech fetishist part of my brain, but... It's also a bit for a middle aged (perhaps?) big gaijin dude to be hanging around them, so I stare from afar.

    It's totally cool that you're doing these reviews. Great work!

  2. Hi! Thanks for commenting! I take purikura almost every week- I sometimes think I'm getting a little old but now I blog about the machines it's a proper hobby ;)

    Sometimes you can find the odd lone machine in karaoke foyers or shopping centre corners if you wanted to sneak a few shots :)


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