Printing with your Laptop or Mobile Device
Be able to print out work from your laptop (or support mobile devices) is an incredible asset to those who need printing on the go.
To help you find what you’re looking for and either keep you on this page if you’re found the right place or direct you to what it is you’re looking for I’ll briefly go over what a ‘portable printer’ is.
A portable printer:
- Does not need AC power, and is capable of operating purely on a battery for extended amounts of printing.
- Is capable of printing to a quality and speed which is close, albeit not exactly that of desktop printers.
Added advantages such as PictBridge, wireless connectivity options and lab-quality photo printing all play a part in their role is multi-functional but most importantly transportable devices.
The Three Main Brands
There are only three brands for consumer-based mobile printers (assuming you don’t want ticket/receipt printers aimed more at businesses) and these are:
Canon and HP produce inkjet technology devices, and Brother produces thermal technology devices. For a more in-depth look at the difference between these two types of technology I suggest visit our homepage WPP for further details.
Canon Mobile Printers
Here at WPP we believe very strongly that Canon produces the best portable printers, full stop. Their latest two devices have trumped HP.
- Their flagship mobile printer – the Canon PIXMA iP100 – is capable of superior color resolutions, rapid printing speeds, ingenious and unique Bluetooth adapter solutions
Their inkjet devices are second to none and we maintain justifiably that Canon’s mobile printing devices are what you should at least look into.
Most people will go with HP purely based on reputation as opposed to the merits of their product.
HP Mobile Printers
Although we maintain that HP is inferior to Canon there’s no denying they’re a big market player. I’m sure the day will come when they produce a mobile printer which outmatches their opponent, but for all of the devices on the market at the moment it’s not today.
- Our biggest problem with HP isn’t their printer’s specifications; it’s mainly their reliability, as well as poor customer support in trying to fix these issues.
If you’re interested in learning more about Hewlett-Packard then check out our HP page for further details.
Brother Mobile Printers
Brother is very lucky because when it comes to consumer based small thermal mobile printers they really don’t have any competition whatsoever.
Thermal technology allows for:
- Small, lightweight and incredibly reliable printers.
However the bonus of its incredible transportability is weighed down by its relatively poor printing specifications.
- These are for-work printers, and as such they’re monochrome (black and white) only, and only print up to 300 dpi.
For people who need highly portable printers just for black text then Brother is the best option and we heavily recommend it.
Which Portable Printer do we Recommend?
If you’re looking more at the printer’s capabilities and specifications and less at its portability then Canon’s PIXMA iP100 is their latest and most superior device. It’s also one of the cheapest to boot. It’s certainly our recommendation.
If you want a device so small you can wrap around your hand then we’d suggest Brother’s PocketJet 6 Plus with Bluetooth.
- It’s a mouthful I know, but it arrives with an internal Bluetooth adapter, a 300 dpi resolution and no moving parts which vastly increased its reliability and lifespan.
It’s a question between capabilities and transportability. The smaller and more lightweight your device is the less it can achieve, and vice versa.
Portable Printer Information
When it comes to portable printers there’s such a variety to choose from people often get lost in the muddle technical information as well as dizzy array of different products. There’s so much to choose from with such differences in quality, reliability as well as printer feature that it’s incredibly difficult to find what you want. On this page you’ll be able to clearly see what the different types of portable printer there are as well as what you should be looking out for. There are things you need to watch out for, great products that we’ll be looking at as well as information on where to get cheap printers or simply more information on the topic.
Let’s define portable
A lot of people talk about portable or small mobile printers but there are two main flaws with this type of thinking. Firstly people don’t think of ‘portable’ in the same way, some see it as meaning the device to be reasonably small and others mean it in the more conventional sense of having a battery and not needing AC mains power for it to work. The second flaw is with what level of portability people are referring to when they say they want a tiny portable printer for example. What are they referring it against? Are we talking about something which you can fit into a deep pocket or comfortably carry around with you, or are we talking about something you leave in the car all day? Are we talking about it being lightweight so as not to strain the person carrying it, or are we talking about it having small dimensions so it can more comfortably fit in one’s bag?
If you want a really small printer which you can indeed fit into your pocket then a PrintStik Mobile Printer would be best suited for you. But this also comes with limitations due to the nature of its rather small size. It can’t print in color for example, and it certainly can’t send faxes or scan pieces of paper which is what most people have grown used to as all in one printers have taken up a greater role in our lives.
As you can see there are a whole host of problems which can be caused by talking about ‘portable’ and portable to one person may be the above example – true portability such as being stored in a deep pocket. To another person it may not even mean that it has to have a battery just that it’s small such as a laser mobile printer. It’s not even possible to have mobile printers (in the sense of no battery) because the power they use and the size of the laser hardware is far too large to even be frequently (or even infrequently) carried around.
Small portable printers
Here’s what a small portable printer A4 should be – lightweight, it should be easy to carry around and not a burden on whoever’s carrying it, even if they have to do it all day. Its dimensions should be small, enough to slot or slide into already quite crowded bags and certainly shouldn’t be taking up the most room, it should be a compact mobile printer which is only a very minor inconvenience to carry around. As an extension of these two features you won’t find any truly portable printers which can perform any complex secondary functions. Core – or primary functions – are black and white/color printing and wireless data transfer, whereas secondary functions are scanning, faxing and so forth – anything not directly related to printing or data transferring.
If you’re looking for this type of a printer then I’d recommend the Brother PocketJet 6 which falls absolutely right into this category. It comes either without Bluetooth integrated in which you can buy a Bluetooth adapter for further down the line if you wanted, or you can buy it with it pre-installed which is what I definitely recommend. It’s classed as a wireless thermal portable printer which means it’s smaller than most of its competitor because thermal print mechanisms are much smaller and compact and this space saved is passed onto the device.
Secondly another good option is the PrintStik Mobile Printer which I’ve briefly mentioned above which is similar to the PocketJet range but with a few key differences. It’s compact size is indeed to similar thermal printing mechanisms however it’s an older design which has some advantages and disadvantages. The good news is that it’s substantially cheaper and can be used with a Bluetooth adapter hence becoming a Bluetooth portable printer for ease-of-use. The bad news is that it can’t print color whatsoever and it’s around 4 years old, which in technology terms means it’s about 20 years out of date. This is great for some people who just need true portability for real work purposes such as purely black and white documents.
Generally most if not all small portable printers have to use the thermal print mechanisms mentioned above if they want to achieve three necessary things. A small compact size, a lightweight body and finally a more reliable composition due to the lack of moving parts which isn’t displayed in inkjet or laser printers. The PrinStik I mentioned above is a sound, economical printer, but for people who need crisper images, faster printing and generally superior capabilities then I’d suggest looking towards Brother for real portable printing.
Regular portable printers
So let’s move onto regular portable printing, and by this I mean that this category of printers is the majority of consumer based portable printers. When it comes to what is deemed as regular then we’re completely changing the mold with regards to print mechanisms. There are none or very few thermal printers with the vast majority being inkjet mobile printer devices which has several key implications.
The first is that these printers are not mobile in the sense considered above with the ‘small’ versions – you can’t slot these into a bag, they’re simply too large and far too heavy. The reason for this being that inkjet printing hardware is simply much bigger and contains moving parts which has another key implications – being that if you’re moving it around constantly you’re much more likely to break it. Printers don’t tend to have many hardware issues even though the vast majority of them have moving parts, with the simple reason being that since they tend to be placed in one position and rarely moved for many years the chances of anything breaking is much reduced. This obviously isn’t going to be the case with any portable printer.
These types of printers are designed for being moved reasonable frequently, but not for use while travelling for example – they’re just far too big. If you have a business conference and you’re going to be travelling and staying in a hotel for a few weeks you’d bring it a long. Most have the secondary and tertiary functions such as scanning and faxing and they’re got far higher dpi count and are superior in every aspect apart from their lack of portability. So if you want to keep it in your car then go ahead, I’d suggest HP or Canon because they produce the best out there. On the other hand if it’s the kind of thing you want to use while travelling then it’s definitely not for you – stick with a smaller thermal-based printer.
Trying to figure out the best transportable printer is really a pointless thing to be doing because ‘the best’ depends on your situation. Simply put, if you need true portability where you’re printing on a plane, between classes at college and need something which limited functions but which overall just gets the job done then the clear winner is to get a small model. If you need something which is less portable but can do much more, for less frequent or less physically strenuous use then it’s definitely worth investing in a more regular sized version.
If you need help finding what’s best for you then I suggest checking my Printer Reviews page which will help you narrow down your options and find what you’re looking for right away.