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There are moments when you miss your old Polaroid. Photography’s move into the digital era led to advancements we could've only dreamed of years ago, like instant feedback via an LCD screen. But, there is still nothing like holding a fresh print in your hand. Here to solve this problem are portable printers. They can be stuffed into a bag, fit snugly in a corner, and they produce quality images you can touch and feel.
Mobile printing is bringing back the snapshot, or the 4 x 6-inch print we used to get back from our local one-hour photo labs. Now, we can have a "lab in our pocket" and instantly pop in our SD cards or connect with Wi-Fi to receive our images.
For example, the HiTi P110S PocketStudio Photo Printer Kit is a dye-sublimation printer that weighs only 4.85 pounds. This is easily transportable for a trip or expedition. It can even use a rechargeable battery so that you don't have to worry about finding an electrical outlet. This is only possible due to the process of storing 3 colors of ink on ribbons, which eliminates the need for large printer systems and liquid-ink cartridges.
The P110S is a great portable solution and can print up to 60 4 x 6" images on a single charge. Additionally, built-in memory card slots mean you can skip the computer step and print directly from the cards using the 2.5" LCD screen. However, it is far from the smallest option in this category.
At just 2 pounds, the lightweight Canon SELPHY C900 Compact Photo Printer is a good choice for those looking for a tiny photo printer. It utilizes a convenient ink and paper cartridge so that you never even have to think about whether you have enough ink left for those last few prints. A major feature of this printer is its Wi-Fi capabilities. They allow you to print without any cables, or if you have a compatible smartphone, without any computers. Also, by using the C900, you can perform basic edits on your photographs, like making an image brighter or removing the red eye from that photograph of you and your friends or family.
Along with the standard compact printers we have the perfect companion for smartphone users, the VuPoint Solutions Photo Cube Wi-Fi Compact Printer. It has ports and a dock so that you can plug in and charge your phone while you make some 4 x 6-inch prints. It also features a cartridge system good for up to 36 prints before replacement is necessary. The only limitation that could be seen is its lack of inputs, but the Wi-Fi connectivity allows it to work with compatible digital cameras as well. Also, the benefits it can provide to smartphone users should make this a popular choice.
Now, let's get seriously compact. The LG Electronics Pocket Photo Printer is just that, a super-compact 7.5-ounce printer that you can stuff in your pocket. It features a Bluetooth connection for printing small, 2 x 3-inch scrapbook-worthy photos from a smartphone. The 2 x 3-inch print size is relatively small, but for those living with thousands of photographs stuck on their phone, the ability to produce tactile images with this printer makes this an option not to be overlooked.
Moving away from the super-compact printers, we have a couple of options for those who want a bit more quality in their prints: the inkjet printers. They use a series of ink cartridges to apply tiny dots of ink droplets to the paper, which allows for a much higher resolution than that created by the dye-sublimation process. However, the need for separate cartridges and a liquid-ink design means they will have to be a bit larger than the printers previously mentioned in this article.
A great example of this is the Epson PM225 PictureMate Charm Compact Photo Inkjet Printer. It weighs only 7.9 pounds but can make 4 x 6-inch prints with a resolution of 5760 x 1440 dpi. It remains mobile with the capability to accept a battery and can use Bluetooth with an optional adapter for creating a full wireless solution.
Another benefit of this printer is access to more advanced print settings, such as layout and templates, via the LCD screen. This means that you can print out proof sheets or just fun photo series on a single sheet of paper.
So far, we have only dealt with printers capable of creating images up to 4 x 6". This generally helps portable devices by keeping the printer's size small. However, some people find this to be a major limitation and just want one printer to deliver both photographs and documents.
Keeping with the compact theme is the Canon PIXMA iP100 Compact Color Inkjet Photo Printer. It can print borderless 8.5 x 11-inch pages at 9600 x 2400 dpi. A huge advantage over other compact devices is its ability to take a wide variety of media types, including transparencies, stickers, and envelopes, among others. If you constantly need to print graphs, maps, or colored charts, this is an excellent option.
If you were looking for wireless or direct printing, it is still capable via an IrDA interface or an optional Bluetooth interface. Other accessories include a rechargeable battery and car charger, perfect for those who are always on the go.
One final option is also the largest in this series; however, the HP OfficeJet 150 Mobile Color All-in-One Inkjet Printer gives users scanning as well as excellent document printing. Producing inkjet prints at 4800 dpi and scans at 600 dpi, this printer is an excellent choice for those running a mobile business.
The OfficeJet 150 can handle letter-sized documents and print borderless images up to 4 x 6". Combined with a long-lasting rechargeable battery, it can make up to 500 prints on a single charge and even has Bluetooth connectivity.
These devices bring the tactility of the printed image to those who otherwise may not stop moving long enough to enjoy them. And, in some cases, these printers can deliver prints faster than your Dad's "instant" film ever could.