There are basically two reasons to use a mobile printer with AirPrint and that’s to use it with your iPad or iPhone and that’s either generally for work or pleasure. People email me a lot asking whether there are such products as mobile AirPrint printers which are iPad compatible. The answer is essentially yes… but let’s face it this is Apple and if it’s not incredibly easy they damn well make it complicated. This riveting page which my descend into a non-nonsensical diatribe at the start, middle and end will outline your options in as concise a manner as I can manage (which is to say not concise whatsoever, as you will discover).
Why is printing from AirPrint to a mobile printer not so simple?
There reason for this is obvious. Apple has not sanctioned the use of portable printers for its products and therefore they’re not immediately compatible. Apple’s iPad and iPhone products are notorious for their in-built limitations. With a laptop made by anyone else you just turn on the Bluetooth on both the laptop and wireless mobile printer and then just transfer the data and get everything printed out in just a few minutes. But not with Apple’s products.
The iPad and iPhone both have Bluetooth which is perfect because so do all modern mobile printers, but that doesn’t mean they’re compatible with the iPad. This means that you need to install a printer application (generally known colloquially as a printer app) in order to allow printing. Using a printer app makes the iPad compatible with mobile printers such as the Canon PIXMA iP100 or HP OfficeJet 100. But it doesn’t transfer the data over a wireless connection which uses Bluetooth, it uses WiFi (is a static wireless access point). This is useful if your iPhone or iPad is always connected to WiFi or can create its own hot spot but otherwise it might be a little bit of a problem.
If you want to print from your iPad in your car you can of course take a standalone wireless modem with you and a power converter and turn your car into a moving wireless access point. That’s actually a really cool way of doing things but let’s face it that’s a massive hassle. Even installing the printer app is – plus they generally cost around 15-20 dollars so you’re having to fork out more money than you should have to. Finding a WiFi point shouldn’t be too difficult for most people, generally people will be going to places which have WiFi hot spots or their Apple device will be able to create them. In case you can’t connect to a WiFi network and use AirPrint with your printer app to print to your mobile printer I’ll point out now that you can’t use a standard usb cable.
I’m serious you can’t connect a regular usb cable from your printer and just stick it in your iPad, they’re just not designed with that flexible connectivity.
Which are the best portable iPad printers which use AirPrint
There are essentially two portable iPad printers on the market at the moment. Remember that they can’t connect using WiFi, but with the correct printer app you can make them iPad compatible. By themselves they won’t work with the iPad but if you’re willing to fork out about 20 bucks and a little bit of your time (or perhaps a lot if you’re awful with technology and as an Apple user they very well might be the case) then mobile printers will work with the iPad. You can see my recommendations for two portable iPad AirPrint printers which are the best and most popular at the moment. These two devices are the Canon PIXMA iP100 and the HP OfficeJet 100. Although both will work I generally recommend the iP100 for a number of reasons and you can find out my reading the article I just linked.
If at this point you’re thinking ‘God this seems like such a hassle’ then believe me when I say that I hear ya’ brother. The only reason I learnt about this topic and have written so much about it (and as an unfortunate side effect learnt way too much about mobile printers) is because I like to earn dollars, dollars and more dollars. Other then that it’s actually really frustrating to be one of the few people (probably in the world because let’s face it this is a pretty niche subject) who know so much about this kind of product because most people ask me the most obvious questions or make such ridiculous mistakes in choosing a product.
Not to discriminate, even though that’s what I’m gonna do, cause this is my website and I can do whatever I damn well want. But generally Apple product users are by far the worst at finding the right product. Most of them think that there’s some kind of magical printing device that will make all of their work and pleasure portability dreams come true. Buzzzzz. Wrong. Wake up. This is Apple and Steve Jobs ain’t around anymore so the innovation isn’t going to be anywhere near what it was like before. I just hope that he laid down enough solid plans to keep the company going for a good long while because its competitors from Korea, Japan and Taiwan are catching up and those guys don’t leave prisoners alive. Not that Apple does of course.
Why HP AirPrint is so useful and so annoying (explained)
It certainly sounds good. Wow. You can just press two buttons and then you can print of what you’re looking at on your iPad and it’ll go straight to your printer? That’s cool right. That’s intuitive, stream lined and useful. Too bad that even though Apple commissioned a dozen or so AirPrint enabled printers that they didn’t think of putting a battery in one and making it portable.
One massive useful aspect of Apple’s devices is their portability. You can carry them anywhere and use them anywhere. On the other hand AirPrint Printers by HP are very much designed for home use. You don’t use AirPrint devices when you’re in the car or walking about because they’re so big and require WiFi. Thus it seems like a match made in hell. You’re mixing a portable product with an un-portable product and that doesn’t make any sense.
Nonetheless HP AirPrint printers are useful. You can check out the page I just linked which will simply explain HP AirPrint. I keep referring to it as HP AirPrint and not Apple AirPrint because all of the original printers were designed and manufactured by HP and not even Apple. Maybe Apple will make its own printers one day, they’ll probably look great and even work great… that’s if you can get them to work with anything aside from an iPad, iPhone or MacBook Pro.
So that’s it. How unsatisfying. If you want to print from your mobile Apple device you need a printer app, a WiFi printer and a little bit of patience. It’s not going to be as easy as you hoped but it’s easily possible with a little bit of effort on your part. Personally I wouldn’t even bother with an iPad. Have you heard of ASUS’s Transformer tablets? Now damn those are cool. Their battery life can be substantially extended with the keyboard and the keyboard itself makes typing so much easier – plus the screen is larger and even more beautiful which makes far better work and pleasure.
When I’ve got enough dollars coming in I’m going to get myself a tablet computer like that and travel the world and work on my websites while abroad. Can you imagine sitting on a beach in Thailand and doing work for a few hours before going for a swim or some delicious pad thai. That’s what I call luxury. Luxury living… luxury life baby. Peace out.