When it comes down to it there are essentially two types of design which impact how good this type of device is. There are inkjets and thermally based designs which each have their own upsides and downsides. Now in almost all situations involving stationary printers an inkjet will be deemed as superior and rightly so.
However when it comes to mobility there are several key factors which turn the tide for thermal portable printing . To start with they do definitely have downsides the first and foremost being their low resolution dots per inch amount. You can expect around only 200-300 dpi and this very low when contrasted with inkjet’s which are around 600 dpi for black and 4800 x 1200 for color. Although the resolutions are admittedly low they’re definitely designed for work related purposes that are not related to having a glossy image. If you want something which can print out impressive photo-style visuals to show off to some clients then this is a device which you definitely need to avoid.
The other various downsides include the price of both the paper and the device itself. You can expect to pay perhaps double for a good mobile wireless thermal printer which considering it doesn’t have the same core functionalities such as printing speeds or the aforementioned resolution it can be a very off putting concept to some people. It also uses thermal paper which costs around twice as much as its inkjet alternatives.
Now that we’ve gotten the downsides out of the way let’s take a look at the massive advantages which they offer.
Firstly they represent true mobility when it comes to printing because they weigh around 1-1.5 pounds (as opposed to an average figure of 4-6 pounds for inkjets) which is around 35% less on average than their competitors. They’re far smaller to boot at around the size of a laptop battery – so small you can fit it into a deep pocket, or a shallow pocket but it’d be sticking out!
Thermal portable printers also do actually have cheaper running costs over time because they don’t use ink whatsoever. They work by the thermal head heating up parts of the special thermal paper which causes chemical reactions that induce color changes. Ink cartridges cost a lot to replace and over time you can save substantially despite the extra costs. This is one of the reasons they’re used in printing receipts in all the cashiers – because the running costs are so low.
They’re also very reliable (which is another reason they’re used at tills) because unlike an inkjet head which moves horizontally across the page, they have no moving parts or very few. This doesn’t mean anything for stationary printers which are just sat there all day, but when you’re transporting around moving parts then problems tend to occur.
Their special paper is bought and stored in rolls within the thermal travel printer similar to that of cashier’s tills and this just increases the portability aspect substantially. They don’t have ink cartridges, paper or Bluetooth adapters which need to be carried around – which combined with their small size and low mass makes them incredible versatile for people who genuinely need mobility on the next level and who are willing to sacrifice a little functionality to achieve such.