If your work involves lots of travel, you may find yourself needing a mobile printer. In the past, the smaller size and weight always involved a trade-off on quality. You would either need to carry something bulky or be content with low-quality prints. However, innovative printing technology continues to move forward, and the Canon Pixma iP100 is a great example.
The iP100 replaces Canon’s iP90v that was nearly the same weight and size. (The new model is actually a tiny bit bigger and heavier than the iP90v.) All together the iP100 is about a quarter the size and weight of the Canon PIXMA MX340, which is your typical All-in-One printer in terms of specs. Without the optional battery or Bluetooth adaptor, the iP100 weighs 4.3 lbs. It is 2.4 inches tall, 7.2 inches deep, and 12.7 inches wide, making it small enough to fit easily into a laptop bag, though you will certainly feel the bulk.
It is meaningfully smaller than its closest competitor, the HP Officejet 100 (3.3 inches tall, 6.9 inches deep and 13.7 inches wide with a weight of 5.1 lbs.). The iP100 folds down into a conveniently shielded shape with a nice, matte-silver finish, making it almost feel like something you want to carry with you. Of course, the printer has a built-in battery for printing on the go.
Where the iP100 performs impressively is with printing quality. The iP100 doubles resolution from the iP90v that came before it, though its HP competitor has slightly better print quality than the Canon. Still, the quality on both printers is excellent and equivalent or better than typical prints from a drugstore.
The Canon is also significantly faster than its competition, boasting more than 7 pages per minute on printed text and a full color 4×6 in only 55 seconds at photo lab quality. (These speeds are even better than some full-sized printers available on the market).
The sheet feeder on the iP100 holds 50 pages, and you can expect to print about 249 pages for each ink cartridge. The printer uses Canon’s ChromoLife cartridges which sell for $17. At this rate, printing multiple pages with the iP100 isn’t the most economical option, but Canon has included some software options to help with this problem. The printer driver allows you to choose between composite mode (generating black with all of the colors) and “save black ink” minimizes the black in text and grayscale graphics. Still, you shouldn’t ever expect mobile printers and ink jets to have the long-term life of laser toners.
There are several disadvantages for the Pixma iP100. First, since the key selling point is mobility, Canon should have at least offered a carrying case for the printer. This would significantly increase its usability for most people, with very little technical innovation or additional expense. The Canon also lacks Wifi connectivity or a media card reader. You can print with Bluetooth, using the optional adaptor that plugs into the printer’s USB port ($50). Of course, IrDA IR (infared) and wired printing are built in. You can also buy an external battery that will add another 290 pages of printing ($100). The optional car charger is also sold separately ($90).
Put all of these things together and you come to the biggest liability of the printer — price. At $250, the Canon Pixma iP100 is not worth the cost unless you are really serious about working on the go. Add in the optional accessories and your cost can go up very quickly. On the other hand, competing models are about the same price, though with less value. If you really do need top quality on the road, the Canon Pixma iP100 is certainly the one you’ll want at your side.
For those of you who work on your mobile office or are always on the go, what is your mobile printer of choice or what other printing solutions do you use? Please share your thoughts via the comments section below.