But can it deliver the quality I need and if so, at what cost? I’m afraid this review is going to be a mix of love and hate and here’s why.
We did some research into portable print options and I couldn’t believe the absolute scarcity of options here! You would think that with the proliferation of netbooks and ultra-portable devices the print possibilities would keep pace with the miniaturisation stakes and there would have been a plethora of small and handy printers.
Not so, my friend.
Yet when I got my first laptop some 20 years ago I also bought a Canon BJ10 BubbleJet printer that was very portable. I sold it in a garage sale last year for 10 bucks.
So what progress has been made since then?
Let’s start with the good bits.
The PrintStik has a great design in slightly rubberised black & silver and is barely wider than your standard A4 paper. It has a nice, clean form with just a couple of membrane buttons for Power and Paper Feed plus a few LEDs for status of the printer.
When you unbox the device you’ll see that the PS905ME is neatly zipped up in an excellent nylon carry case and it comes with a charger, USB cable and a Quick Start Guide and driver CD. It feels rather solid – even a touch heavy – even though it weighs less than 400 grams.
Advantage: you never run out of ink as you don’t use any. Disadvantage: the cost is in the thermal paper.
The PrintStik comes with a cartridge (roll) of paper that will give you about 20 A4 sheets in length. If you don’t need a full sheet just tear it off where the printing stops – just like a shopping docket. That’s all good and well but the print result also looks like an oversized shopping docket. It has the familiar curl of having been on a roll and has the printing quality of such...
Yes, if there’s any beef with this handsome device it is about the print quality. It is sufficient for quick drafts or handing out a receipt to a customer but beyond that? The durability of thermal paper – rated at about 7 years -- and the cost of it is also an issue.
So how did the actual printing go?
This model came with Bluetooth so that would be the preferred method for this test. But before we came to that phase we had our fair share of installation hiccups.
We had problems with the Bluetooth pairing. Did read the manual but it seems that it doesn’t play nice with Windows 7 64bit. So I contacted support and they were able to help out with a new driver (Thanks, Sammy!).
It’s always great to know that there is a good support team behind the product that you purchase. They also advised on the strange situation where I must have pressed the On/Off button just a second too long and found that now the printer could not be shut off! The device was frozen and the only way to get it out of that "frozen" state is if you let the battery die down, which is what happened.
Tip: When you want to print a test page, only hold the buttons down at the same time for about 1-2 seconds, holding it down for longer periods of time will put it in the frozen state.
After installing the new driver and restarting the computer the PrintStik was added and I could print my first page.
Yes, it does make more noise than an inkjet printer and it’s fairly slow at a couple of pages per minute. And, yes, it’s draft quality and the paper doesn’t tear off in a straight line either... but all the same it is amazing that this little thing can deliver a useful on the road printing solution.
Well, with all the provisos and negative points of printing on thermal paper we know that the PrintStik will only ever be operating in a niche market. And that’s a pity. There’s a demand for inexpensive on-the-go printing solutions. The PrintStik would be ideal if it could print standard A4 sheet paper with a reasonable B&W quality. (Instead of rolls Planon can also provide sheets of thermal paper. This may be a better option as I do not want to place an overseas order every time my 20 page roll has been torn off.)
However, I’m not sure Planon can or would want to re-engineer this printer. So if you have an application where you need a lightweight printer and you don’t mind that it will deliver curly draft documents, then I can recommend the PrintStik. Being the world’s smallest printer as they claim comes at a price: USD199 for the cheapest version and USD299 for this one with the bluetooth. There are two more models with a car adapter and hard case which go up to $349. If you can live without bluetooth 199 bucks is not bad value.
- Type 900 Series
- Size Approx 25mm x 48mm x 280mm (~ 1” x 1.9” x 11”)
- Weight 1lb. (460 g) including paper cartridge
- Resolution 200x100dpi, 200x200dpi, 200x400dpi
- Method Direct Thermal Printing
- Speed Up to three pages per minute
- Paper sizes (Roll) Paper Cartridge 8.5" wide 20 pages
- Interface Wireless Bluetooth + Standard USB 2.0
- Power supply Options AC - 100-240 VAC, 50 or 60 Hz with AC Adapter
- Number of pages per charge Up to 18 pages (15 page equivalent)
- Battery type PRINTSTIK Rechargeable Lithium-ion Polymer
- Charging 3 hours for Full charge
- Regulatory CE, IC, FCC
- Operating System Supported XP, Vista, Blackberry, other Java phones