Inkjet Portable Printer – the downsides

You’ve probably heard a lot of great things about portable printers which are based on inkjet printing technology – but there are downsides too.  Find out more below.

When it comes down to it, all things considered I’d say that inkjet based designs are probably the best.  But understanding why is key to picking the right device; I say they’re the ‘best’ because for the majority of people they will be – but certainly not for everyone.  If you don’t do your homework and you instantly just go out and buy one you could very well find that thermally based designs would have suited you far better if you’d just understood the capabilities and drawbacks of each.

To start with when it comes to this type of product then clearly portability is incredibly important – and this is one of the areas which you’ll definitely be let down at if you want absolute mobility.  They tend to weigh around 4-6 pounds – contrasted with 1-1.5 pounds on average for thermal devices.  When you look at their physical dimensions they’re similar in size to a net book apart from being around twice as thick.  If you look at thermal devices these are so small you can fit them in a deep pocket and are comparable to a battery from a laptop in size (not a net book battery though a full sized laptop one).

But you also need to remember the extras which further reduce the portability of inkjet based designs.  To start with you’ll most likely need extra ink cartridges, which are more room and more weight.  You’ll possibly need Bluetooth adapters or wireless access point ones, and although these don’t weigh much they still need to be stored and kept track of.  Finally you obviously need to be carrying around paper, and potentially a lot of it – and this needs storing as well.

Remember that thermally based portable printers do not use ink because they operate via their thermal head.  The thermal head heats specific thermal paper which has certain chemicals woven into the strands which are color specific – mostly they turn from white to black upon heating.  You do need to carry and pay for thermal paper, which is twice as much as inkjet paper – however they’re stored in rolls within the printer (similar to receipt paper at cashier’s tills), so you don’t have anything extra to carry around unless you want to do a lot of printing and take several rolls.  Finally when it comes to wireless connectivity inkjet based devices almost exclusively need external adapters, whereas thermally based designs do not and they’re internally stored.

All in all when it comes to mobility then thermal based designs win hands down, but where inkjet’s succeed is in their faster printing speeds and high resolution color printing (for example photographs) as well as monochrome (black and white) printing resolutions.

However all of these capabilities come at the price of the inkjet portable printer device’s transportable nature and seeing as you want something which is ‘portable’ then this obviously is going to land a heavy blow.  In most cases I do still think they’re better overall as well as for most people, but for those who need something which is incredibly movable then they’re not the first option you should be looking at.

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