Planon PrintStik is a small portable printer which prints without ink
Although we encourage the reduced usage of paper in our articles, we couldn’t skip this example of gadgetry. Planon PrintStik with Mobile Enhanced application is the smallest full-page portable printer with self contained paper on the current market. With the trend of laptops getting smaller and cell phones turning into computers, it is natural to expect the printers and scanners to become smaller and portable. They also developed a portable scanner, but we’re going to write about it in one of our upcoming articles.
The concept of portable or thermal printers is not new. More than a decade ago, Nintendo released the GameBoy printer (also known as Pocket Printer) but it didn’t become widely spread since it did cost a lot, and you had do use special heat-sensitive paper. The PrintStik and its paper refill cartridges are much more affordable. The thermal technology is ideal for portable porpoises, allowing trouble-free instant monochrome printing.
The PrintStik is remarkably small, about 2.5 x 5 x 27.5cm (1 x 2 x 11inches), and it has a cartridge with 20 pages of paper inside, making it easy to carry in a coat pocket, laptop bag, or your suitcase or purse. It is also light and weights just 0.7kg (1.5 pounds). There isn’t much to control on the printer itself. Buttons on the side are for power on/off and paper feed. Lights indicate if the unit is on, data rate and the battery level.
It is equipped with a rechargeable Li-Polymer battery and does not use ink or toner, so you don’t have to worry about those expenses or the potential mess toners and ink-cartridges can make during traveling. However, you still have to print on heat-sensitive paper which is much more affordable nowadays, and they offer their paper refill cartridges with storage for 20 sheets (roll) of standard letter-sized paper. Since the print on the heat-sensitive paper perishes through time, the durability of the printed information is important. The company claims the prints on their paper last up to 7 years.
The various models of their printers vary in their performance and price. They are able to print in resolutions from 100 to 400 dpi (the most expensive model can achieve 600 dpi). Since they are not meant to be used too often, the printing speed isn’t pretty impressive and it up to 3 pages per minute. Regarding the connectivity, all of the models are able to connect via USB, and only the cheapest model can’t connect via Bluetooth.
To use the PrintStik, you first have to charge its internal batteries by connecting the included USB adapter or cable to a computer or wall outlet. You also have to install the printer drivers. Planon’s Mobile Enhanced driver includes a print server service for your BlackBerry, Win Mobile smart phones or PC (Mac not directly supported, OS X with virtual PC installed needed) to print full size web pages, almost any attachment, as well as emails, maps, pictures or address book.
Since the paper is folded inside the cartridge (in a roll as most thermal paper) the printed material comes out a bit curled. While it is most useful for text, the image printing quality of their mid-priced printer isn’t quite impressive. The folks from Planon should also work on better compatibility with other gadgets. This device is not for everyone, but it can be useful when you need to show or print a ticket or receipt, forgot a document or wish to avoid boarding pass lineups.