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There's no reason to give up printing just because you hit the road. CRN Test Center has tested the Brother MPrint microprinter, the Canon i70 Color Bubble Jet Printer and the HP DeskJet 450e-all small enough to travel with you.
The Canon and HP are general-purpose printers capable of black-and-white, color and photo printing on any size or type of paper. In the interest of portability, the Brother lets you print only in black and white and only on A7 paper.
All include wireless ports for printing from Pocket PCs or Palm-based PDAs and USB ports for printing from notebooks or PCs. Canon and HP also print directly from printing-enabled devices like digital cameras without a PC or PDA. The DeskJet even prints via Bluetooth, though setup is tricky.
The Canon i70 combines a small size (12.4 by 6.9 by 2.0 inches) with a light weight (4 pounds). It prints in black and white at 600 x 600 dpi and in color at 4,800 x 1,200 dpi. The Canon i70 is also affordable: It costs $250 (all prices street) without the rechargeable battery, which sells for $90 and provides power for up to 450 printed pages.
The HP DeskJet 450 cbi is slightly larger (13.3 by 3.2 by 6.5 inches), heavier (4.6 pounds) and more expensive ($349) than the i70. Its rechargeable battery prints only 350 pages. Color resolution is the same as the i70, but the DeskJet prints black-text documents at 1,200 x 1,200 dpi. We found that the i70 printed sharper colors and had better quality for photos.
The i70 also has a speed advantage. Black-and-white text documents print at 6 pages per minute (ppm); a digital photo on 8.5-by-11 photographic paper took one minute, 27 seconds. The DeskJet prints black-and-white documents at 3.5 ppm; it took three minutes and 43 seconds to print a color photo.
The $299 Brother MPrint, on the other hand, enables true in-the-field printing. It's light (less than 10 ounces) and tiny (4.0 by 6.4 by 0.7 inches). The unit prints at 4 ppm and, in addition to its A7-size ThermaPlus M paper, will print self-adhesive labels and carbon-copy paper. The MPrint prints at 300 dpi and is powered by a rechargeable battery capable of up to 100 pages. While the i70 and 450 cbi are both available at retail, the MPrint is only available through IT consultants or solution providers.
If you need a high-quality, inexpensive printer for use on the road or even at work, the Canon i70 is your best choice. For a truly tiny printer that still produces quality printouts, consider the Brother MPrint.
Michael Gros is affiliated with the CRN Test Center, the technology testing facility for CRN, a weekly newspaper aimed at IT consultants and solution providers.