Brother m-PRINT

Summary: If you need a printed record of information on your Pocket PC handheld, this is a lightweight and portable way to get one wherever you are.

  • Editors' rating:
    7.0
  • User rating:
  • RRP:
    GBP £212.00

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight
  • battery-powered
  • supports Pocket PC handhelds.

Cons

  • Small (A7) paper size
  • only accepts special thermal paper
  • no drivers for non-Pocket PC handhelds yet
  • relatively expensive.

Would you want to print from your Pocket PC handheld when you’re on the road? That’s the main point of Brother’s tiny new m-PRINT portable printer. Although it’s got a USB port as well as an infrared connection, so you can connect up a notebook, the small A7 paper size makes it a better fit for a handheld because you get a screen’s worth of information on a page.

Your handheld has lots of important information in it -- dates, addresses, to-do lists, essential telephone numbers and so on. You rarely think about printing them out because you don’t tend to carry a printer around with you -- indeed, the absence of cables and power supplies is one of the reasons why self-contained handhelds are so popular. But when you carry a handheld you don’t always bother with pen and paper as well, and if you’ve ever had to borrow a pen and scribble on the back of a napkin to give a colleague or a customer a telephone number, you’ll know it doesn’t leave you looking too professional. Brother’s m-PRINT makes it easy to pass on contact details, print a map, give someone your schedule for the week or print yourself a task list to pin on the fridge -- albeit on rather small pieces of paper.

You can print from any application if you’re using a Windows-based notebook and the m-PRINT’s USB connection -- documents are automatically resized to fit A7 rather than A4. Pocket PC applications don’t usually have a print command (there aren’t any drivers for other handhelds yet), so Brother supplies printing tools for the built-in applications -- notes, calendar, tasks, contacts and email as well as images. These provide the same list you’d see in the application itself, and you can pick the dates for your schedule or find contacts by category. You can print anything else by copying it to the clipboard or using the screen capture tool: given the small size of the paper, you probably wouldn’t want to print a whole Pocket Word or Pocket Excel file, but this way you can print from any software you’ve got installed. There’s also an SDK for adding printing to custom applications.

The infrared connection is fast and pages print within 15 seconds. Thermal printing is good for a portable printer because it starts outputting immediately without having to warm up, and there are no moving parts or consumables to run out or leak in your briefcase. Print quality is surprisingly good: text is clear -- if a little small -- and it doesn’t smudge or run. The paper will yellow over time, but these aren’t documents you’re likely to want to file and keep. Graphics aren’t as impressive, but they’re adequate for a simple map.

Because it’s a thermal printer and such an unusual size, you can only use Brother’s own paper, which comes in a cardboard case that you have to fold open. You can get plain paper, labels, sticky notes and carbon copy paper for custom applications. Inserting paper looks tricky but is actually simple, and the sheets feed neatly onto the top of the printer rather than falling on the floor.

The m-PRINT is sleek and silver. It’s larger than a handheld, but not by much -- about the size of a folding keyboard -- and very light at 300g. Instead of the usual power brick, the adapter is little more than an over-sized plug and remarkably lightweight; you shouldn't need to carry it around with you anyway as the m-PRINT’s rechargeable Li-ion battery lets you print more pages than the paper tray holds (around 100 pages).

Your documents will be as abbreviated as the printer, and at £212 (ex. VAT) the m-PRINT is a little pricey just for the convenience of printing rather than writing. But if you need a record of sales agreements or an instant receipt, this is a lightweight and portable way to get one wherever you are.

Topics: Printers, Hardware, Reviews

About

Mary Branscombe is a freelance tech journalist. Mary has been a technology writer for nearly two decades, covering everything from early versions of Windows and Office to the first smartphones, the arrival of the web and most things inbetween.

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