Compact printer handles everything from legal size to envelopes to photos.
Ink cartridges and optional battery pack are expensive.
If you need something portable or just compact, this will get the job done—just be ready to pay for the convenience of being able to print anywhere.
Living on the road, like I do, isn’t for everyone. It requires a lot of sacrifices and the willingness to accept near-constant change. When my partner and I moved into our RV, it was easy to rid ourselves of unneeded clothing and furniture, but we couldn’t leave behind the computer gear we need to do our jobs. And suddenly I was on the market for a really small printer.
After using the Canon Pixma iP110 portable inkjet printer for a few months, I feel comfortable recommending to anyone who needs a portable printer. It doesn’t have a scanner, which is fine since I can use my iPhone camera and apps like Scanner Pro, but it’s more than capable of handling the documents, photos, and envelopes I need to print from the road.
Tiny but mighty
Picking up the iP110, you’ll be surprised that its compact body (12.7 by 7.3 by 2.5 inches) still weighs close to five pounds. All that weight jammed into such a tiny printer is good news, however—this thing is rock solid. After a few months of being slammed around in a storage cupboard with other pieces of hardware and test samples, the iP110 still performs as well as the day I unboxed it.
Setting up the printer is easy. Plug it into the wall or charge up its optional lithium-ion battery (more on that in a minute), and you’ll be well underway. The iP110 can connect wirelessly to your home network via PictBridge Wireless LAN (IEEE 802.11b/g/n) or kick it old school with a USB connection. No matter how you choose to connect, mating it to work with your computer is a breeze, thanks to Canon’s setup wizard. I was able to get my printer up and running both wirelessly and via USB without any difficulties. After installing the iP110’s software and drivers, you’ll be set to start printing from your Mac or an iOS device using AirPrint.
How’s it work?
Completed print jobs on the iP110 look pretty good. At a maximum DPI of 600×600, the black-and-white documents I print most often are always crisp and highly legible. On the odd occasion where I want a hardcopy of a photo I’ve taken, the printer’s 9600×2400 DPI color photo resolution (borderless, no less) is a treat. That it can print anything from envelopes to legal sized documents is an added perk.
The iP110’s auto sheet feeder can handle roughly 50 sheets at a time, but you might want throw less into its paper tray, depending on the paper weight you’re using. The same goes for photo paper. Its document handling after completing a print job is something of a letdown, though. The iP110 has no paper tray to catch documents after they’ve been run through the printer. Instead, the printer simply spits spend pages out the other end. That might be fine for small print jobs, but I’ve found that if I’m printing more than five or six pages, I need to move my printed pages to the side. If I don’t the pages coming out of the printer mix in with the rest of my printing instead of stacking on top. That sucks.
And then there’s the price.
On its own, the iP110 sells for $150. You can print via Wi-Fi with it, but to do so, you’ll have to carry around a wall-wart power adapter that’s almost as heavy as the print itself is. To go truly wireless, you’ll have to spend more—a lot more. A lithium ion battery for the printer costs $100. You can buy it separately or as part of a kit. Having the battery means that you can print anywhere but it also adds about a pound of weight to the printer. And then of course, as with any inkjet system, there’s the cost of ink, with a full set of cartridges running $42 on Amazon at press time.
Taking all of this into consideration, you’ll still be hard pressed to find a more adaptable portable printer than the Canon iP110. But you’ll pay through the nose.
Next time: We’ll spend some time with the SPOT GEN3 Satellite GPS Messenger—it’s an easy-to-use piece of gear designed to let your loved ones know that you’re OK while you’re in the wild… or help you get out of trouble.
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Séamus Bellamy is a travel and technology writer with bylines at Boing Boing, AFAR Magazine, BBC Worldwide and USA Today. A full-time digital nomad, Séamus calls Canada home--but he doesn't see it all that often.