The Mini Canon BJC-85 – it’s Compact, Color and A4 Sized

If you’re looking for a decent, cheap, portable printer with basic wireless interfacing then you’ve found the right printer.  I’ll admit right of the bat this printer is pretty old, but considering the price you can get them at as well as the fact that it’s still a useful printer I just had to review it.  Read more below.

As usual I’ll start by taking a look at the portability aspect of the printer which has two main aspects, its size (dimensions) and its mass (weight in pounds).  These two are incredibly important things and there are some printers out there which are marketed as being mobile when they’re far from it.  It’s very small measuring just 11.8 x 2.3 x 6.2 inches making it a comfortably snug size, admittedly not as small as some printers, but still a little smaller than what’s considered at the moment to be the ‘best’ wireless portable printer – the Canon PIXMA iP100.  To go with it’s smaller dimensions it weighs just 3.1 pounds by itself, but 4.5 pounds with the AC Adapter and optional battery pack which makes it quite lightweight as well.  Again it’s not the lightest, but it’s still a pretty good weight for what it does.

Now let’s take a look at the printing.  It’s dots per inch are a let down, and although at the time they would be considered very reasonable (especially for mobile printing), the truth is now that Canon portable printer division spits out far better mobile printers nowadays.  However unless you want especially high resolution print outs then the reality is that most people will be completely fine with what this produces.  It prints at both 720 x 360 dpi for black and white and color which obviously is pretty poor, but it’s still to a reasonable enough standard to accommodate most people.  If you need ultra-high quality pictures, presentations I would recommend staying away from this.

A further criticism aside from its rather low resolution is its printing speeds which are incredibly slow by modern standards.  It prints out black at 5 pages per minute and color at 2ppm which is the slowest I’ve seen yet for a wireless portable printer.  I’ve also specifically classed this as a ‘portable printer’ even though it does actually come with ‘high speed’ infrared for the simple reason being that people don’t really use infrared anymore.  It was old technology when I was young and it’s certainly old technology now I’m older.  It comes with the infrared built in, along with usb and IEEE 1284 parallel.  Surprisingly it runs on Windows 7, as well as all of the previous versions excluding Vista for some reason – as well as most MAC OS.

Canon BJC-85

Canon BJC-85

It prints in letter size, legal size and A4 to name just a few and its paper feeding tray holds 30 sheets.  It can print on most types of paper: plain paper, envelopes, glossy photo cards and high resolution paper to name just a few once more.  Finally you need to remember that if you want real portable printing you need buy the battery pack which does not come included, and this will print around 200 pages per full charge which is quite a lot – however the battery is the less powerful nickel (as opposed to lithium) battery.

The Bad

I’ve already pointed out some of its bad points, mostly relating to its low resolution prints and unacceptably slow printing speeds.  But It’s time to point out just a few slightly more serious issues.  To start with like many earlier inkjet models and especially with portable printing for laptops it tends to be the case that if you’re not printing regularly the ink heads dry out, making the printer unusable until properly fixed.  This can be a real hassle and if you’re on the road travelling you don’t want to be wasting your time trying to get the printer you paid hundreds of dollars for to work.  You want something which is reliable and road worthy and if you don’t want to be forced to printing every few days or so then you shouldn’t have to do so.  This isn’t a problem for Canon’s (or HPs) later mobile inkjet printers but for their earlier versions this was an endemic design flaw.

Canon BJC-85 Portable Printer

Canon BJC-85 Portable Printer

Another flaw is to do with the feeding tray which again is a problem which affected many different versions of printers from both of the big two companies.  One thing you have to understand is that due to the very nature of printers they’re not very durable, they were designed to site in one spot for years at a time and not to be moved around.  To this end the inkjet printing mechanisms contain moving parts and the overall structure simply wasn’t designed to be constantly moved from place to place.  It’s a great small mobile printer but ultimately the internal hardware such as the inkjet print mechanisms as well as the paper feeder can both be occasionally prone to breaking.  Now this doesn’t mean that it’s a problem which is going to affect everyone, all of these problems are to an extent self inflicted.

Canon BJC-85

Canon BJC-85

Now it may be a hassle but if you have to print something random out to stop the print heads drying then perhaps you’ve just got to do it.  Or if you’ve got to treat it more like a fragile antique to protecting the moving parts from… moving and damaging themselves then that’s another step you’ve got to take.  Why?

You’re paying for portability and mobility, that’s it.  But both of those things come at a cost, and the cost is some of its core functions, lower resolution print outs as well as what I’ve mentioned above.  But these problems are a small price to pay if you need a genuinely portable printer, and I suggest that if you don’t think this is for you, you should check out different wireless portable printer for laptop devices until you find what you’re looking for.

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