While the world is more digital than ever, the promise of a paperless world for decades seems more distant than ever. Ironically, one of the places you’ll need a printer the most is when working with clients on business trips or in the field. Over time, it’s becoming less and less common to find printers everywhere you go, so a portable printer could be a real lifesaver when you need hard copies of something away from the office.
What to Look for in a Portable Printer
Portable printers come in different shapes, forms, sizes, and features. Most purchasing decisions are similar to choosing any type of printer, but some aspects are specific to these mobile machines.
First, portable printers will have battery capacity, which is usually measured in the number of pages it can print on a full charge. This number varies depending on the quality of the print and whether it is in color or not. So pay close attention to the figures quoted and make sure they are sufficient to cover your real needs.
Battery power may not be an issue if you choose a printer that can charge from a car’s 12V outlet or accept USB power from a power bank.
Another special consideration for portable printers is whether you want a model that holds paper or requires manual feeding one sheet at a time. Hand-fed sheet-fed printers are much more compact, but if you want to print more than one or two pages at a time, it can take up a lot of valuable time.
1. Best for quality business prints: Epson WorkForce WF-110 (around $350)
- Large maximum DPI numbers
- You can print borderless photos
- Additional external battery available
The Epson WorkForce is great for a specific trip where you’ll need to print, but it’s not the printer to choose if you want to print higher volumes. Ink cartridge capacity is relatively limited, with a nominal capacity of 250 and 200 pages for black and color cartridges.
What Epson would buy is high quality, low volume printing. With a maximum print resolution of 5760×1440 DPI, but a battery-powered print speed of just two pages per minute, it’s all about quality rather than quantity.
However, this might be just what you need when you’re traveling to see a client and need to discuss the final details. You’ll get office-quality prints with a battery-powered system.
- 50 sheet paper tray
- No battery by default, ideal for users who do not need battery power
Battery power is the main draw of portable printers, but it can also be a downside. Batteries wear out, increase the cost and weight of the printer, and not everyone needs them.
This makes the Canon Pixma TR150 an interesting product. Unfortunately, out of the box there is no battery. You can buy a battery later if you need it, but if you’re moving from hotel to hotel or setting up a mobile office somewhere, you can just plug in the TR150.
It’s not the smallest portable printer on the market, but that’s somewhat offset by the 50-sheet paper capacity. It’s small enough to fit in your luggage or in your car, so “big” is relative.
- Compact, dedicated photo printer you can take anywhere
- Photo paper packs are inexpensive compared to instant camera film sheets
- Produces much better photos than Polaroid-style instant cameras
Smartphone photography is more popular than ever, and new phones like the S21 Ultra and iPhone 13 Pro have excellent built-in cameras that can take great photos. It’s easy enough to share these photos on social media or send them to friends and family, but there’s something special about printing them as physical photos that you can frame.
HP Sprocket is a dedicated instant photo printer that lets you use your Android or iOS device to take photos and make hard copies right away.
This is a more specialized type of portable printer, and you need to purchase special packs of photo paper to use with the machine. Still, if you compare it to Polaroid-style instant cameras, the Sprocket ends up being cheaper over time, with higher quality prints and photos.
The Sprocket gives you another social photography option. If you like hanging out with friends, taking trips, or attending events like parties, there are a lot of things that make it appealing.
- Office printing on the go
- High quality print speeds
- 20 ppm draft mode printing on AC power
The HP OfficeJet 200 is a portable, battery-operated printer. Yet in most cases this is the same as dedicated desktop printers which are much larger and need to be plugged into a power outlet.
The battery is perhaps the most impressive feature here. It’s rated for 500 pages between charges and can be fully recharged in just 90 minutes. You won’t even need it with the standard cartridges, which will only give you around 200 black-and-white prints, or around 165 color prints. HP sells high-yield cartridges that can push those numbers up to 600 and 415. So if you’re heading for a long traveling on business without the hotel’s business center in sight, this is an option worth considering.
Based on the various test prints and user reviews we’ve seen, the OfficeJet 200 delivers print quality roughly equivalent to HP desktop inkjet printers. That’s really impressive considering it’s a portable machine and could even make it your only printer, ready to leave the office when you are.
- High resolution printing
- Suitable for almost all types of printing.
The iP110 is a compact inkjet printer that won’t appeal to everyone. Still, if you’re fine with a maximum print size of 8.5 x 11 inches (legal US letter) instead of A4, you’ll find this to be a great little printer with color resolution. maximum of 9600 x 2400. DPI. You can also print a 4×6 borderless photo in less than a minute!
However, impressions of its print quality are mixed. The consensus of customer reviews is that it doesn’t look bad, nor does it seem to be anything special. It’s decent in everything, but not exceptional in anything. So if you need a versatile portable inkjet with no real weaknesses, the iP110 seems like the right choice.
The only issue to note is that this printer seems a bit overpriced for what you’re getting, so try to wait for a sale if you can.