Whether you’re confined to working from home or you’re free to roam the world as a traveling salesperson, a portable printer is an invaluable tool. For the former, it offers a convenient way to easily print documents and PDFs in space-constrained homes, and having paper deliverables can make an already great presentation even more memorable. If you’ve ever traveled for work and need to print out a boarding pass, a contract to sign, or a handout for your next meeting, you likely know how frustrating it can be to find the nearest print shop in town.
Fortunately, with miniaturization, you can take your own printer with you on the road, and we’ve rounded up some of the best portable, compact options for you.
- HP OfficeJet 250
- Brother PocketJet PJ773 Direct Thermal Printer
- Canon Selphy CP1300
- Fujifilm Instax Share SP-3
- Epson WorkForce WF-110
- Canon Pixma TR150
- Fujifilm Instax Link Wide
- HP OfficeJet 200
Best all-in-one printer for the mobile office
Why you should buy it: HP’s OfficeJet 250 is a mobile all-in-one complete with scanning, copying, and printing capabilities.
Who’s it for? Traveling road warriors in need of a full office printer in a compact size.
Why we picked the HP OfficeJet 250:
Don’t let its small size fool you — HP’s OfficeJet 250 is a compact all-in-one that brings you scanning, copying, and printing capabilities to a package that conveniently fits into your travel bag. Highlights of this miniature marvel include an automatic document feeder to make scans and copies, a 50-sheet paper tray for printing, and fast printing speeds that can output up to 10 pages per minute at up to 1200dpi resolution. Not only is the OfficeJet 250 travel-ready for tradeshows and conferences, but its features rival some of the best full-size printers.
Ideally suited for the traveling lifestyle, the printer can readily connect to laptops and smartphones using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi Direct, and it comes with a durable plastic build. A small 2.65-inch touchscreen makes controlling the printer easy, and it can make prints on a variety of paper sizes and mediums. The printer weighs just over 6.5 pounds, so it’s not an item for everyday carry, but thankfully HP packed in a decent battery that can recharge in 90 minutes when the printer is off.
Best lightweight printer for travelers
Why you should buy it: Brother’s PocketJet PJ773 is the slimmest mobile printer on our list that delivers solid black-and-white results for those who solely print documents on the go.
Who’s it for? Travelers who need a document printer but don’t want to be weighed down with excess bulk.
Why we picked the Brother PocketJet PJ773 Direct Thermal Printer:
If you don’t need robust features, Brother’s PocketJet PJ773 is an excellent option that will keep your shoulders happy and your bag light. Though it’s one of the more expensive printers on our list — and the price seems even higher given its limited features — this PocketJet’s saving grace is its light 8-ounce weight and compact footprint.
To get to this price and weight, you’re going to need to accept some major trade-offs with the PocketJet. First, this printer will only print in monochrome, so you won’t get rich, inky color prints from this printer. It’s great for PDFs and documents, however, but it also requires thermal paper to print, making it less friendly for impromptu prints unless you’re traveling with specialty paper. If you can live with these constraints, text prints are detailed, and the printer can handle up to eight pages per minute speeds. Wi-Fi Direct printing makes it easy to print from mobile devices.
Best printer for mobile photographers
Why you should buy it: Canon’s Selphy CP1300 is a portable printer solely dedicated to delivering fantastic photo prints.
Who’s it for? Traveling photographers who need to bring a photo lab with them to churn out quality 4 x 6 photos.
Why we picked the Canon Selphy CP1300:
If you’ve ever shot with or received a Polaroid, you’ll know that nothing beats getting an instant print from a recently captured moment. Canon’s Selphy may be less instant than instant film cameras, but you can send your shots from your smartphone to the printer using a Wi-Fi Direct connection for beautiful, borderless photographs that top out at 4 x 6-inch in size. The printer doesn’t ship with a battery inside — it’s an optional accessory — so be sure to budget extra if you truly want to travel with this photo printer on vacations.
Unlike traditional inkjets, this printer uses dye-sublimation technology to render prints, making it slower to output than other ink technologies. To make a print, the Selphy has to pass the paper through the printer four times — once for each of the three colors and the final pass to apply a clear, glossy protective coating on top. The unique process means that you’ll need to buy Canon’s specific ink and paper set, which amounts to about $32 for 108 prints that measure 4 x 6 inches. A 3.2-inch flip-up LCD touchscreen provides manual controls, and AirPrint support makes printing from an iPhone easy. Canon also provides its own SELPHY app that allows you to make simple edits.
Best photo printer for the retro-inspired photography
Why you should buy it: Fujifim’s Instax SP-3 delivers square-sized instant prints without requiring you to buy a separate camera from your smartphone.
Who’s it for? The selfie generation, party planners, and those living in Polaroid’s yesteryear.
Why we picked the Fujifilm Instax Share SP-3:
The Instax Share SP-3 is an instant ink photo printer that relies on similar technology as the old Polaroid cameras of yore. Replicating its forebearer’s iconic square photo aspect ratio that’s even popular on digital platforms like Instagram, the Instax SP-3 comes with a retro quality that makes it a fun centerpiece at birthday parties, baby showers, weddings, and themed parties. Set it up with a ring light, some props, and a smartphone or tablet on a tripod and you’ve got a fun photo booth!
The magic of the Instax SP-3 is that it is completely inkless technology — this is actually instant film that develops, and the chemicals are self-contained within each sheet of Instax paper, which comes in a 10-pack cartridge. Prints eject out the top of the printer, and print speeds are relatively fast. It does take a few seconds to develop the photo before things start appearing, which is always a delightful process. The cost of that delight is about $1 per print, but if you can find multi-pack cartridge bundles, then the price becomes more affordable.
Best mobile inkjet printer
Why you should buy it: Epson’s WorkForce WF-110 brings inkjet reliability in a very compact travel-ready form factor.
Who’s it for? Road warriors who need to travel with a printer that can deliver inkjet-quality results.
Why we picked the Epson WorkForce WF-110:
Beneath the utilitarian looks of Epson’s WorkForce WF-110 is a mobile printer with solid inkjet performance. Though larger than Brother’s thermal inkjet printer on our list, the WorkForce WF-110 prints in color and comes with a black ink cartridge as well as a combo color cartridge that comes with cyan, magenta, and yellow ink. The performance of this inkjet is solid, with its use of pigment-based ink. Text is clear and defined and the printer does a good job with color though you shouldn’t rely on this mobile WorkForce for photo printing. With expensive cartridges that are small, you’re going to have to replace them fairly often, making the WorkForce WF-110 an expensive investment. The cost per page is approximately 10 cents for monochrome text prints. But if you’re using color heavily, your cost could double. Still, the flexibility of printing documents on the fly or having a compact inkjet in a home with limited space is definitely a bonus.
This printer prints over Wi-Fi and comes with a built-in rechargeable battery. Charging can be handled with either the AC adapter or USB port, and an external accessory battery is available if you need it for larger mobile print jobs. For traveling, the printer conserves its power by shutting off automatically when not in use. There’s also a 1.4-inch LCD for convenient controls and to view the ink status.
Best affordable printer for mobile printing budgets
Why you should buy it: Canon’s Pixma TR150 comes with more affordable replacement ink costs.
Who’s it for? Budget-conscious travelers who just need printing capabilities without the extra frills from an all-in-one.
Why we picked the Canon Pixma TR150:
Canon’s Pixma TR150 may not be the fastest printer to come with a full set of features like other models on our list, but it comes with a more modest up-front price tag and more affordable costs for replacement ink. Though cartridges are small and have a low yield, their inexpensive cost makes the cost-per-page more affordable than some rival models. The Pixma TR150 averages around $0.10 per print with solid color photo quality, especially in the mobile printer segment.
Given its more affordable entry point, there are some sacrifices that you’ll need to live with. Like many mobile printers, the Pixma doesn’t do duplex printing, and it is hampered by slow printing speeds, making it ideal only if you occasionally need one-off prints. The printer has a very small 1.4-inch display, and most of the controls are done with buttons that are proximal to the screen. A battery is included in the box, unlike with the photo-centric Selphy printer in Canon’s mobile lineup, and the printer can output to a variety of paper sizes and mediums, including photo paper.
Best instant photo printer with a wide format
Why you should buy it: Fujifilm Instax Link Wide delivers the instant photo experience in a more traditional size print format.
Who’s it for? Smartphone photographers who enjoy instant photography but don’t want to be constrained to the square aspect ratio.
If you appreciate the magic that comes with instant photo prints but don’t like the restrictive square aspect ratio of the Instax Share SP-3 on our list, then Fujifilm’s new Instax Link Wide is the perfect ticket. Despite the “wide” moniker in its name, this isn’t a wide-format printer — it still prints to instant film with a rectangular picture area of 62mm x 99mm. The actual print is slightly larger to accommodate for white borders and a slightly larger chin at the bottom — like traditional Polaroid prints — where you can provide your handwritten captions to make your keepsake even more personalized.
With the companion smartphone app, you’re able to create collages and even Harry Potter-like photos with scannable QR codes that take the viewer to a website to view even more photos, which is perfect for events like birthday parties, weddings, and baby showers. The QR code can be used to embed hidden messages, where a scan can reveal the location — perfect for party invitations — or a secret message to a loved one that’s only viewable when they use their smartphone camera to scan the photo. Templates and other creative effects can also be applied to the picture. The printer is available for preorder now and will launch later this month.
A more affordable all-in-one portable printer
Why you should buy it: HP’s OfficeJet 200 comes with printing, scanning, and copying capabilities in a compact package.
Who’s it for? Road warriors who need a more affordable all-in-one printer.
If the price of HP’s OfficeJet 250 is too high for you, you can save some money by going with the OfficeJet 200. It still delivers reliable inkjet-quality prints and all the features of a compact all-in-one in a mobile, travel-ready package, including scanning and copying capabilities. Print speeds can reach up to seven pages per minute when connected to AC power or six pages per minute on battery, and you’re getting a resolution of up to 4800 x 1200 dpi for color prints.
A 2-inch screen makes it easy to view the printer’s settings, and the printer relies on two cartridges to render your images — a black cartridge and a combination color cartridge with three ink colors. The printer can print to a wide variety of paper mediums, sizes, and formats, so you can use this versatile printer for documents, photos, labels, cards, and brochures, making it a great companion for a party planner to print out sample invitations.
- What should I look for in a mobile printer?
- What if I need a scanner?
- Should I get a portable printer with a battery?
- What connectivity options are available for mobile printers?
- How do I calculate the printing cost?
- What are some alternatives to a mobile printer?
- Is a portable printer a good solution for home use?
Other than print quality, the cost is one of the biggest factors in choosing a mobile printer. Not only is there an up-front cost with the price of the printer, but there is also a long-term cost with replacement ink and/or paper. Some, like Canon’s Selphy, may require you to buy specialized packs of both photo paper and ink together, while others may just require standard ink cartridges like inkjet printers.
If you’re going to carry this printer around with you, too, you’ll also want to consider size, weight, and paper demands.
To save space and create a compact and lightweight portable printer, many manufacturers eliminate the scanning feature on their printers. To get around this limitation, some printer apps come with a scanner feature that you can use on your smartphone, If you rather use your own scanning app, there are a number of third-party apps that will allow you to scan text, create a PDF scan, or take a JPEG image of the document.
This really depends on how you intend to use your portable printer. If you need a truly mobile solution, finding a printer with a battery and one that can charge over USB will be ideal. If you just need to travel with a printer and can find a setup with a power outlet, then you may not need a battery. Having a battery built-in will give you more flexibility and will allow you to use your printer anywhere in the field, even in locations without an outlet.
Most mobile printers will come with a USB port, which can be used to print over a wired connection from a laptop or for charging the built-in or optional rechargeable battery. Many of these printers will come with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi Direct wireless capabilities for printing. While Bluetooth may be more convenient to set up — it doesn’t require you to log off of a Wi-Fi hotspot with an Internet connection just to print — signals may be less reliable and less secure than Wi-Fi Direct. If you’re looking to print directly from a mobile phone or tablet, many models will come with their own printing app that can be installed on your device.
Aside from the up-front cost of the printer, printing cost is usually determined by cost-per-page. You can calculate this by taking the cost of the ink cartridge (and paper cost, if specialty paper is required) and dividing that by the yield from the cartridge. For example, a $10 cartridge that yields 10 prints will result in a cost of $1 per page or print. You’ll want to calculate the cost for monochrome prints, which is a good indicator of how much a text document will cost you, as well as for color prints. For desktop printers, typically you can get a more affordable print cost by opting for high-yield, extra-large cartridges. This option is generally not available on mobile printers where space is a key limitation.
If you know you’ll need printed deliverables, you may want to print them ahead of time if you’re making a presentation. Printing handouts in advance on a larger office or home inkjet or laser printer will generally help you save some money on print costs. If you’re traveling and don’t have access to an office printer, you can try an internet cafe or print shop like FedEx Office as an alternative. This is less convenient than having an on-demand printer to use at any time and will require advance planning, but it is a more affordable alternative if cost is a concern. For road warriors, some higher-end hotels will have business suites or even in-room printers you can use at no cost or low cost. You should inquire with your hotel prior to booking reservations to see what business amenities are available to you.
Yes! In homes where you infrequently print and where space is a concern, a mobile printer can be neatly tucked away in a drawer or on a shelf when not in use. Compared to desktop printers, mobile printers are smaller and less obtrusive. Mobile printers can be good solutions for households where you’re generating one or two paper prints a month. If you have moderate to high print jobs, getting a larger printer will save you money on ink in the long run. Larger printers also come with more features that are suited for heavier print volumes, like faster print speeds, duplex printing to save paper, and built-in duplex scanners. Many of these features aren’t readily available on mobile printers due to size constraints.
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