Overall when it comes to core specifications you’ll find that thermally based devices are far inferior in many respects. When it comes to their resolution you can expect them to print only around 200-300 dots per inch, which is nothing compared to their inkjet alternatives which can whip out around 4800 x 1200 for color and 600 dpi for black and white.
You can expect them to print slower, and they’ll cost far more as well – both in terms of the product’s price as well as that of the paper it uses. It uses a special type of thermal paper which has chemicals woven into it and is double the price of inkjet/laser paper.
One advantage of thermal monochrome printers is that they work without ink, and operate by a thermal head being heated to very high temperatures. This comes into close contact with the thermal paper, and the chemicals within the paper quickly reach their melting point. Once they start to melt they undergo a rapid color change (usually in most basic paper they go from white to black – but different chemicals produce different colors) and once the thermal head is heating a different part of the paper they re-solidify. Upon solidifying they retain the color change and this produces the ‘ink’ which you seen upon the paper.
There are some definite downsides for using a thermal mobile printer such as this, but the positives are definitely there and they can make a big difference to some people.
So start with because they don’t have any internal moving parts they’re far less likely to break, which is far more frequent for inkjet based designs which are constantly being move around. This has a knock on effect and allows the printer itself to be both lighter and more compact. This isn’t necessary for stationary printers but when we’re talking about portable thermal printer reviews devices it obviously makes a big difference.
If you’ve got plenty of room and don’t mind carrying around 5-6 pounds then I wouldn’t recommend this to you for one second. On the other hand if you need a genuinely high level of mobility with something which weighs only 1-1.5 pounds and is so small and thin it could fit into a deep pocket then these are what you’re looking for.
Overall they’re a tradeoff between mobility and functionality. You lose some of the core functions such as I’ve mentioned but you gain a whole new level of transportability. You’re not longer limited in where you go and how you print because you can simply or slot this into everything. You also don’t need to worry about bringing along peripheral extras such as ink cartridges and paper. There are no ink cartridges necessary, there’s no Bluetooth dongle – they’re almost always internal, and finally the paper is purchased and used in rolls which are stored within the thermal monochrome portable printer itself.