Portable Printers: A New Mobility Solution or Just a Gimmick?

We’ve seen all sorts of improvements in our lives brought about by portable computing. We have tablets, smartphones, etc. But have you noticed the great supply of portable scanners we have, yet not many people buy them? Perhaps the public doesn’t know they exist? What about portable printers? This is inexcusable! How can people not buy those?

It took almost 600 years to get from the printing press to a point where a large number of households have their own printers with overly expensive ink cartridges that spit out ink even when the printer isn’t printing anything.

But how long will it be until a large number of people have portable printers they can grab and take with them along with their tablets? Practical solutions have already been developed, such as the Brother PocketJet 6 Plus. This portable printer allows you to enjoy printing wherever you go without having to lug around a whole bunch of equipment. It also operates on Bluetooth. That’s pretty and all, but you still have to attach today’s portable printer to another computing device. That eliminates the mobility factor. What I’m waiting for is a printer that has sufficient autonomy to give me absolute power over what I bring with me. That’s what the word “mobility” is, by my definition.

How do Portable Printers Work?

A portable printer has about the same function as a home printer system. It might even be less complicated! The printer has a feed system and rollers, just like the one at home. There are some parts missing, however, to ensure that you don’t have to carry a large plastic box. Portable printers have a small casing that usually resembles a beam. This is kind of like how portable scanners look, as well. Compare these two images:

1) A portable printer
2) A portable scanner

Aside from the obvious, there’s also a difference in the printing mechanism by which the “ink” appears on paper: Portable printers use thermal transfer instead of the traditional cartridge modules. Read more about the method here. This enhanced method of printing lets you have more financial control over the printing process, and allows you to have a very tiny casing that maximizes your mobility.

An ideal portable printer will have absolutely no need to be connected to a computer, allowing you to select documents from within its internal or peripheral memory. There are portable scanners that allow you to scan a document into internal memory or a MicroSD/SD card.

The Drawback

Try using normal paper on a thermal printer. Woah! No image! That’s because portable printers often use thermal technology that requires a special thermal paper that has a layer of material that reacts to heat. This heating process will, as a consequence, print an image. That’s why these little paper spitters don’t require a whole lot of maintenance and cartridge swapping. You have to make a choice between a clear and crisp color image from a home printer or the amazing mobility of a portable solution.