One of the frustrations of working while travelling is trying to find a printer when you absolutely need one. Rather than suffer the inconvenience of setting up new printer profiles and installing drivers on the run, why not carry your own mobile printer? Such devices can be used with a variety of mobile gadgets, which increase their value and can make your life on the road much more productive. PlanOn's Printstik PS910 has one big selling point: it is, claims PlanOn, the world’s smallest full A4-page monochrome printer.
The Printstik PS910 is Bluetooth-enabled, allowing a wireless connection to your notebook or smartphone. Unfortunately, the PrintStik currently only works wirelessly with Windows systems and BlackBerry devices, which rather limits the scope of this relatively expensive peripheral. PlanOn says that drivers for Mac OS computers, iPhone and Windows Mobile devices are in development, but no date has been confirmed. If wireless printing isn't required, the Printstik also has a regular USB 2.0 port.
The compact 700g PrintStik lets you do wireless (Bluetooth 2.0) or USB printing on the move.
The Printstik PS910 is a great-looking device, at least as far as printers go. It's also impressively well built, and at 700g is robust enough to survive travelling between meetings. PlanOn has also done a great job of making the printer easy to use — vital for any mobile device that will generally be beyond the immediate reach of tech support or expert colleagues. Another major benefit is that the Printstik uses a rechargeable Lithium polymer battery (AC adapter supplied), so you don't have to worry about being tethered to a mains outlet. This is valuable if you need to work in a car, on a train or on-site with customers.
The PrintStik PS910 is a thermal printer, which means you don't have to worry about ink refills. You will, however, need to replace the 7-year-rated thermal paper cartridge after 20 prints, at a cost of £9.99 per roll. Our only criticism of the print mechanism is that cutting the roll is awkward and getting a nice neat finish requires skill and patience. Once you're up and running, you can expect modest print speeds of up to 3 pages per minute (ppm), which is adequate unless you need to output a business report or a PowerPoint presentation in a hurry.
Whereas a regular inkjet printer ejects droplets of inks on the paper, the Printstik PS910 moves heat-sensitive paper directly underneath a stationary print-head. As the elements on the printhead heat up, a chemical reaction takes place on the paper, causing characters or images to appear up to a maximum resolution of 200 by 400 dots per inch (dpi).
The Printstik's biggest drawback is its print quality, which is well below that of a typical mono inkjet or laser. This is most noticeable when printing graphics, illustrations and small font sizes. However, if you stick to printing basic business documents, it prints characters and graphics relatively clearly — although text is a bit fuzzy.
For some business users, a mobile printer can boost productivity. The Printstik PS910 is a niche product, but it does a pretty good job of printing simple spreadsheets, emails, invoices and suchlike. The ability to print wirelessly from Bluetooth-enabled devices as well as from a standard USB 2.0 connection is useful, as is battery power option. However, pages curl up the way thermal-printed credit-card receipts do, running costs are higher than most laser printers and inkjets, and you have to use the special thermal paper.