Can you imagine running a business without paper? No, neither can we!
Despite the emergence of PictBridge, Cloud printing and other tools that we have discussed previously, being able to connect a laptop, mobile, tablet or camera to a printer anywhere and anytime to print documents, photos or receipts is still of vital importance for many people.
Many businesses are now operating without designated office spaces – people work from home, their clients’ offices, hotels or they ‘hot-desk’ at different, temporary work spaces.
A lot of industries also require people to travel constantly, be it by car, train or plane. Especially smaller businesses as they tend to employ freelancers who may work on different projects for several companies at the same time.
So there are a variety of reasons why connecting your device to a Wi-Fi network that allows printing might not be the most secure or efficient option. This is where portable printers come in handy.
Portable printers are, as you would expect, rather small, yet they come with a great range of features and thus cater to many different needs and demands. They enable you to produce physical copies directly from your (mobile) devices, even without being connected to the internet.
Portable printers easily fit into a laptop bag and some even work on battery, saving you valuable luggage space.
All-in-one products that let you print, scan and copy are available, of course but if you are looking for the smallest and lightest options, single-function printers are probably best for you. They are also the most likely ones to produce high-quality prints of documents or photos, and at high-speed, too.
Some portable printers are Wi-Fi enabled and can even be connected to a network, so they can be used by more than one person at a time. A great printer for this is the HP Office jet 100;
Inkjet portable printers tend to be lighter than laser ones, as their cartridges are smaller and exchangeable, meaning those printers will usually be cheaper as well. If your business requires you to produce high-quality and visually attractive prints, you should probably opt for a single-function either, black and white or a colour printer, as these tend to have a higher print resolution than multi-functional ones.
Portable printers also differ in what media sizes they allow you to print: some are A4 only, others have more functions, such as adjustable paper slots, duplex printing or 4 x 6-on-one picture printing.
How many sheets the paper tray holds is another aspect in regards to the size and weight of the printer. The smallest ones do not even have a paper tray as such but they still have a certain maximum input capacity, as can be seen in the image below;
Image courtesy of Inhabitat
If you only need to print one or a few pages at a time, a capacity of 20 sheets will probably be enough. If your documents tend to be longer, however, the printer should have a higher capacity to ensure a seamless and speedy printing process.
Some people only need to print things from their computer but if you like to be able to also connect your phone, tablet or camera, you will need to watch out for a more versatile printer.
As with all printers, you also need to check the compatibility for Mac and PC. It might seem a given that printers that enable mobile devices to be connected to them would recognise any makes and models. But they don’t, so watch out!
Since small dimensions are essentially the biggest benefit of portable printers, you find that thinking about the most vital requirements to inform your buying decision is more important than it probably is for office printers. And there are indeed many aspects to consider! So to summarise, we hope that the below guide will help you decide which kind of portable printer would be a good purchase for you. Before looking into specific models, you should consider the following:
- Printing only
- Printing / copying / scanning
- Black and white printing
- Colour printing
- Printing documents and photos
- Printing of high quality photos only
- Printer is used by just one person at a time
- Printer must be able to be connected to a network so that multiple people can use it
- Printer is connected to device with a cable
- Printer is wireless
- up to 20 sheets
- 20-50 sheets
- more than 50 sheets
- A4 or smaller
- A4 only
- A4 and bigger
- Duplex printing
- Memory card slot
- (Colour) display
Once you know exactly what you will be using a portable printer for and hence which features are essential and which ones you can compromise on, you will still be faced with a quite a variety of products.
We have tried and tested some portable printers that are currently on the market. For wireless, high-quality printing and low running costs, we liked the Canon Pixma iP100;
The Epson Picturemate PM225 is a little heavier but offers lots of great features, such as a colour display that gives a preview of the documents and pictures. It also has a carrier handle which makes for convenient transportation;
Overall there is a good selection of portable printers available, and thankfully we also stock the replacement cartridges for the popular models including HP Thinkjet Printer, Canon PIXMA iP100, Canon IP100, HP Officejet 100 and the Canon Selphy CP810. Hopefully this has covered some of the key functionality and considerations needed for when looking at how you can utilise portable printers.
We would love to hear from you if you do use a portable printer, it’s always great to speak with people about innovative ways they are using portable printer technology in their business.