Printing and Copying on the Road

By | October 30, 2016

One of the areas that is often discussed is the need for a small and portable printer.  There are some good articles on this and an example from Technomadia is here.   At this point in time we wanted to start downsizing everything but still be able to print on or off the RV.  We have a Brother office printer that has served us very well and is lower cost per print being a color laser.  We just don’t print as much anymore and did not want to store the printer because it would depreciate so rapidly.   We wanted the printer to be able to print at a reasonable cost and be very portable.  Ideally it would be at least 12 volt capable and if possible battery operated.   We do not print photos anymore as that is so inexpensive to do at the local Costco or other outlet by just sending the file in.  We occasionally have a reason to copy and fax.   While we print less and less all the time, we wanted something that would still be suitable off the RV and in our current home or future home.

With that criteria set we looked at the recommended units from Canon Pixma ip110, Epson Workforce F-100.  These printers meet most of the criteria and are lower in cost.  However, to be able to use unplugged, a battery must be added to the cost.  For the Canon it is an additional $99.00, currently.   I looked at the HP products.  Historically, I have not been too impressed with HP printers and have been very successful with Brother printers for office use.  Brother alas does not make a truly mobile printer.

The HP 200 series mobile printers come in  200 and 250 versions.  Both are new for 2016 and considered a major technology refresh over the older 100 and 150 mobile printers.   I looked at a couple of them and they have had decent reviews on several places.  This review is from PC Magazine.   The advantage for this is that it comes priced with a battery and has very good reviews for both the 200 and the 250.  The 250 has a touch color screen and copy capability.   We have decided to give the HP a try.  The reviews seem to be consistent in that the cost per print is somewhat better than the Canon and the print performance is as good as standard ink jet printers.  We almost went that way, but the nominal size, weight and cost difference led us to choose the more capable all-in-one printer.

The HP 250 Mobile printer  was recently reduced to $299 from Amazon which makes it less than $50 more in cost than the HP 2oo Print only version.  The 250 model has a touch LCD color display and copy capability.    The Mobile 250 is 14.96 x 7.8 x 3.6 inches and about 6.5 lbs.  This will fit in many of our cabinets and can be taken out and used without cables.  It is capable of wifi printing and wifi direct printing.   It can be charged with a usb cable or the provided 110v adapter.  For those who do not want the extra cost of capability the HP 200 Mobile Printer should also be considered.   For copy capability I have found multiple mobile phone applications that do a great job of copying files now.    Many are for fee or have adds associated with them.   I found that the Microsoft mobile application Office Lens linked here for iphone, is both free and very functional for making pdf, word and jpeg documents from our phones.   It is available in android and PC versions as well.

I will be updating this post once we get the old printer sold and the new one arrives and is set up!

We received the printer this week ( 10/28 )  and the setup was very straight forward.  Right out of the box the printer is AirPrint capable.  This is not well documented in any of the advertisements but this feature works well.   Setting up to the local router allows connection to the internet.  You can set up the web server to do a number things, including an email address to send files to for printing remotely.

During the setup the printer gives a web address to get all of the latest drivers.  I did that on our Windows 10 laptops and installed the drivers.  Then I looked for and installed a Windows 10 application for HP AIO Printer.  This allows managing of the printer through that interface and also allows printer status, ink cartridge remaining and print / scanning configurations.

A similar printer / printing management application is available for mobile devices.  For our iphones it is also AIO Remote from the app store.  Similar for Android devices.

The printing is very fast and clear.  We will be using it and working with the best configurations for us over time.   One of those features is the auto off duration to keep the battery from running down.  We found it takes a minute once on for the printer, router and our pc’s to all become aware of each other.

So far the scanning tests look very good for individual or multi documents.  The files can be configured for pdf, jpeg and some others.  It will also take pictures taken from a phone or other and re-align and format the image for a straight image.   I have yet to try the OCR functions to see the picture to text capabilities.

Overall we are quite pleased with this printer’s size, weight and capability.  The setup was as easy as any I have set up and as complete a capability as my large Brother laser multi-function (less fax).  Whether on or off an RV this is probably all the printer we will need for quite a while.  When doing fine picture prints we will outsource files, and when we need to occasionally fax we will use eFax or some other service.

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