PLANon PrintStik PS910 review

£170
Price when reviewed

Mobile printers don’t come much smaller than this. At around the same size and weight as a six-cell laptop battery, complete with paper, this is an extremely portable device. It’s light, too, coming in at under half a kilogram, so will slip into a laptop bag without adding much bulk.

This is important, as you don’t need to carry around a heavy laptop to use the printer; Windows Mobile and Blackberry smartphones can both output to it, just as easily as a standard PC, just as long as you have the appropriate software installed. And a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion polymer battery ensures you don’t have to be near a mains socket either.

Just like its dimensions, the method of printing is quite unique. Rather than the more common inkjet or laser approach, this device uses thermal printing technology – if you’re old enough to have used a fax machine, then you’ll know exactly what sort of print quality to expect.

Text is blotchy and pale, and images are coarsely rasterised. Reading longer documents printed at this quality is difficult, and because the paper is output in a continuous roll, its applications are rather limited, too.

Unfortunately, the drivers fail to take advantage of the fact that print outs are made up of one continuous sheet, and when printing multiple-page documents, you still get page breaks, rather than flowing copy. There are advantages, though: the thermal paper technology requires no ink, as it simply changes colour when heated.

This does, as with fax machines, limit print-outs to monochrome images, but also means that paper is the only consumable cost you need to worry about. This is convenient, but not necessarily cheap. Three rolls of paper costs £10, and each roll only gives 20 pages, at a cost of just over 16p per page.

Unfortunately, the PrintStik is expensive to purchase as well as run. At £170 there are far more capable office printers for the money, which will provide far cheaper and higher quality documents, and also cheaper, if slightly less portable machines, too.

If you need to print on the go, and want the adaptability of switching between smartphones and laptops, then the PrintStik offers great portability. However, the cost is high, and the quality too low to use for most applications.

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