Portable printers come in all shapes and sizes and this mini-guide tries to point out the main areas you need to be looking at when buying a portable receipt or label printer.

1.Receipt or Label

First thing is to check if the printer you need will print what you need it to. Most label printers will also print receipts, but many printers will only print receipts.

2. Width

Portable printers come in lots of widths from 1″ right up to A4. Add to this that many printers will print with lower width paper if required so if you’re not sure you can buy a larger printer and use it for smaller width printing.

3. Battery

A major requirement for most enterprise applications, a big, string battery is a must for all day working on the go. remember that a 7.4v printer will generally give double the power of a 3.2V system like a PDA but even so the bigger the battery, the better!

4. Printer size

Lots of our customers don’t like the big heavy printers and prefer to go for smaller, lighter models that are more easily carried and handled.  Smaller printers do have some trade-offs like roll size and batteries can be smaller which can be fine for some, but there are some that have the right balance too.

5. Roll Size

The larger the roll, the less often you have to change it! Changing rolls is pretty easy but it can also be a pain carrying spare rolls around, keeping them safe and then changing one in the middle of a storm! If roll size is important to you then perhaps a larger printer is more suitable.

6. Ruggedness

Printers are inherently less rugged than PDA’s due to all the moving parts but they still come with water/dust proofing in the shape of IP54, and some also have drop specs. Also check for preventative measures like rubbery, grippy casings, anchor points for handles and straps and if they come with cases.  Not all printers are made equally and you’d be surprised to find who’s not so equal. If you want something that’ll last years then look for metal components,not plastic and check the overall build quality of the printer.  Buttons should be firm and springy, cases should not twist and bend and hinges should be tight!

7. Connectability

Watch for 2 things here.  Firstly the physical connection the printer offers.  Is there a serial port? USB cable compatibility or Bluetooth or WiFI for multiple device connections? Also does the printer work with Windows, Windows Mobile, IOS and Android? Make sure the printer works with the kit you already have!

8. Print speed

If your printer is too slow, it won’t be able to keep up with your work demands.  Make sure any printer you buy up to 3″ wide prints at least 80mm/s, although 100mm/s is becoming more common these days.  Also remember the wider the printer, the slower it can be so if speed is paramount, check if you really need that 4″ wide one?

9. EPOS features

Many portable printers can extend your smartphone or rugged PDA application by including Magnetic or chip card readers in them, allowing you to take payments from customers.  A mobile printer and PDA is an alternative to the larger, clunkier all in one mPOS terminals that seem to be gaining in popularity due to their flexibility.

10. Support

There are a lot of cheap printer brands on the market and also the main brands are dropping prices like wildfire these days.  However make sure this is not at the expense of the help, advice and repair times you get after you buy.  All too often we see customers who have paid for a cheap printer only to find they have to wait 5 weeks for it to be repaired, brining down their business with it.  Always ask what kind of support you get. There are many other things you need to consider, but that’s a taster of some of the main ones.  If you need a printer or need some advice then just come and ask us here or tweet us on @ruggedandmobile

About The Author

Dave's one of the founders of Raptor, his rants are memorable, his thoughts are stimulating and his heart is set on helping, entertaining and making things like mobile, Android, ruggedness, 3D printing and IOT simple.

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