Hewlett Packard H470 - Finally Another Good Mobile Printer

I recently purchased an HP H470 mobile printer. I have been a long time user and fan of the Canon BJC 50/55/70/80 series, but they stopped selling those quite a few years ago, and my last one has been slowly dying recently.

I recently purchased an HP H470 mobile printer. I have been a long time user and fan of the Canon BJC 50/55/70/80 series, but they stopped selling those quite a few years ago, and my last one has been slowly dying recently. I've been looking for a replacement for a long time, without success. Then I came across the H470, and while it is not perfect - it is actually a bit too large and heavy, and pricey - it is by far the best option I have seen so far. In a few important ways, it is actually better than the BJC-80 it will be replacing. The pricing on these runs from about $250 to $350, or 300-400 Swiss francs, depending on configuration, but I got mine at half price.

The H470 comes in several different configurations, so you can match the price and features to your needs. The base model (just plain H470) is simply a small desktop printer, which is easy to pack up and take along; Then there is the H470b, which includes a Lithium-Ion battery, so you can use it without the AC adapter; and the H470wbt, which includes the battery and a Bluetooth interface. I believe there is also a model which includes a WiFi interface rather than the Bluetooth, but I don't have the model number handy. Note that both the Bluetooth and WiFi interfaces are actually USB dongles which plug into a special port on the H470, so you can only have one or the other, you can't have both at once.

I bought the Bluetooth model, first because that was the one which was on sale at half price, and second because I knew from using my BJC-80 that I wanted the battery. My BJC-80 has infrared instead of Bluetooth (yeah, it's old), and honestly that wasn't terribly convenient because of the line-of sight restriction between wherever the computer and printer manufacturers might come up with to stick the IR port, so I was hoping that Bluetooth would be a lot more convenient. It is. Mine also includes an "HP Mobile Printer Sleeve", which is a pretty nice protective case to keep the printer from getting banged and scratched too much when you are traveling. I'm not sure, but I don't think that the case is included with the other models.

I decided to go "straight for the throat" in setting up the H470, and try to get it working via Bluetooth right away. Assembling it was a snooze, pretty much like any other inkjet printer; the only thing that was different was the Bluetooth dongle, and there is only one place to put it and it only fits one way. Tough to screw up... I use Ubuntu most of the time, so I started there. I went to the Bluetooth icon, told it to pair with a new device, and in short order it said that it was happily connected and even seemed to know that it was a printer. Except, it didn't show up in the Printer administration dialogs or in the application Print commands. Hmmm.

A web search led me to the Ubuntu Bluetooth Printer Setup Page. It turns out to be pretty easy, if a bit tedious. You have to use the command "hcitool scan to get the MAC address of the printer, then go to System/Administration/Printing, hit New, then Other, and enter that MAC address, minus colons and with "bluetooth://" added to the beginning, for the URL of your printer.

That's all it took for me, the printer was then ready to go, and it prints beautifully. It's considerably faster than the BJC was, and the print quality looks better to me. The paper feed mechanism is much better, and much less prone to missed page pickup and crooked page feeding.

I haven't tried it with other Linux distributions yet, but I assume that it will be quite similar. I also haven't tried it with Windows yet, because I don't boot Windows that often any more, and I haven't had Windows running since I got it.

I expect this H470 to last a long time, and get a lot of use, both while traveling and here at home around my desk. The Bluetooth has already turned out to be a blessing, because I don't have to bother finding room for it directly on my desk, or running a USB cable to wherever I can find room nearby.

jw 24/7/2009

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