Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tips for Selecting the Right Mobile Printer

In today’s fast paced mobile world, mobile printers have proven to be invaluable. Mobile printers have reduced operating costs, increased productivity, increased revenue and made the mobile computing experience more efficient.

Choosing the right mobile printer for you or your business’ needs is not a simple task. You have several factors to consider: printer features, connectivity options, print technology and print media. We’ll take the mystery out of purchasing a mobile printer for you or your business by giving you five simple tips for selecting the right mobile printer!

When searching for the right mobile printer for your needs or the needs of your business, there are five questions you must ask yourself:

  • What is the Ease of Use?
    Mobile printers that are difficult to connect, bulky or heavy will slow you down and create more difficulties than benefits.
  • What is the Battery Life?
    How long will the printer’s battery last? You need to have at least 2-3 hours of battery life to use the mobile printer effectively.
  • What is the Printer’s Dependability?
    Printers that fail intermittently or continuously will decrease your productivity, impacting bottom line of your business and creating additional costs.
  • What types of Customer Support do I Receive?
    The type and level of support that you receive after the purchase of your printer can become a major determining factor of which mobile printer to choose.
  • How easy is the Printer’s Integration?
    How easy, or how difficult will it be to integrate your mobile printer into your existing network or to connect it to a single computer?

Mobile printers were once only for the elite, however now many on-the-go people and businesses employ mobile printers as part of their tools of the trade. Mobile printers have been proven to increase productivity, increase revenue, reduce operating cost and improve customer retention in a competitive marketplace.

Industries that have seen significant gains from implementing mobile printing solutions are: warehouse and distribution center, route accounting and delivery, outside sales and service, restaurants and hospitality centers and law enforcement agencies.

Prices of wireless technology and wireless products continue to decrease, making it more of a reality for small business to acquire multiple mobile printers and for every laptop owner to own a mobile printer. Although selecting the right printer for you or your business needs can be a daunting process, printer manufactures are beginning to offer printers with a choice of options at different price points. Even though the lowest priced printer are extremely tempting, these printers are not always the best choice, especially for a small business.

Printer Communication Types
Mobile printers receive prints jobs via two different options – cabled and wirelessly. The majority of mobile printers on the market today offer the ability to connect your mobile printer to your laptop via a type a communication cable, most likely USB. However, you now have the option send print jobs to your mobile printer via a wireless connection. Mobile printer manufacturers differ on wireless options they support. The types of wireless options are as follow:

  • IrDA - Infrared Data Association
    This was the first wireless technology implemented. IrDA provided secure transmissions, was inexpensive and required less power than other wireless technologies. Unfortunately, IrDA use is declining because of its need for line-of-sight to print documents.
  • Wi-FI – Wireless Fidelity
    Wireless fidelity has become the choice of wireless communication in industries such as: manufacturing, medical, retail and warehousing & distribution due to its wider communication range. Line-of-sight is not needed and print jobs can be transmitted from computer to mobile printer up to 1,000 feet away. The downside is that Wi-Fi uses more power than IrDA or Bluetooth.
  • Bluetooth
    Bluetooth has become the wireless technology leader due to its transmission range of about 30 feet and is lower battery power consumption. Many industries such as outside sales & service, law enforcement and the medical industry prefer Bluetooth because it allows you to communicate via radio signals with up to seven other Bluetooth enabled devices.

5 Tips for Choosing the Right Mobile printing Solution

    1. Ease of Use
    Before selecting your new mobile printer, read through the printer’s documents and gain as much information as possible to understand the operation of the printer and its maintenance. You want to choose a printer that is simple to operate and requires little to no maintenance. You also want to check into the printing options is has, print speed, media that it uses, battery power and form factor. If the printer requires you to carry multiple spare batteries or boxes of media, this may not be the right printer for you.
    2. Battery Life
    When choosing your mobile printer, verify what type of battery it uses. Most mobile printers now use the popular Li-Ion batteries, yet some still use NiCad and NiMH. The Li-Ion battery when compared to the later two provides more battery life, more battery charges and is lighter.
    3. Printer Dependability
    There’s nothing worse than meeting with a client and just as you are finalizing the deal, your printer fails. The best way to avoid downtime is to purchase a reliable printer, these are usually “ruggedized” mobile printers. These printers have ratings that inform you of what types of condition can they operate in. In addition to the ruggedized rating, the printer should have a way of communicating a hardware failure and also a way to indicate its operating condition.
    4. Customer Support
    Mobile printer manufacturers provide customer support and warranties. Some manufacturers offer extended warranties, extended customer support and help desk support – usually for a price. When choosing your printer regarding support, verify what type of phone support you will receive. Some manufacturers don’t offer 800 number support and some only offer support during specific hours of the day.
    5. Printer Integration
    Before purchasing your printer, you MUST verify the compatibility with your current devices and future upgrades. There can be conflicts with operating systems, programming languages, computing platforms and communication & security standards. To increase your chances of mobile printer compatibility, you should as these questions:
  • Are the mobile printer’s drivers compatible with your current network?
  • What characters and fonts are available?
  • What are the printer’s requirements?
  • What language does the printer use?

Mobile printers have become a near necessity for the mobile employee. Mobile printers have increased productivity, improved cash flow & revenues, reduce operating costs and enhance customer retention in a competitive market. Choosing a mobile printer can be a daunting task, but if you follow these five tips, we can make this process as painless a possible and help you to choose the right mobile printer for your needs.


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