On paper, the PlanOn Prinstik PS910 Mobile Printer sounds like a great accessory for road warriors. It's equipped with a built-in battery and weighs a scant 1.5 pounds. But you'll have to make big sacrifices in speed and quality for portability.
The Most Mobile of Mobile Printers
If it weren't for its long paper slot and smattering of buttons and LED lights, the 11.0 x 1.9 x 1.0-inch Printstik could easily be mistaken for a notebook battery. At 1.5 pounds, it's much lighter and smaller than theCanon Pixma iP100. It's not even much heavier than the pocket-sizePolaroid PoGo Instant Mobile Printer, given their respective sizes.
The Printstik has a black satin and matte silver blocked design. The paper slot stretches across the front and, like fax machines of old, the paper is rolled up inside. On the front surface are buttons for power and ejecting paper, as well as LED lights indicating the printer's battery life, whether it's turned on, and whether it's connected to a device.
The Printstik can only hold the equivalent of 20 sheets of document-size paper at a time, so don't plan on using this to print your quarterly report on the go. Also, you can't insert your own standard sheets; you have to use rolled up paper cartridges, which cost a steep $24.99 for three refills. The paper rolled up inside has the texture of fax paper: thin and flimsy.
One thing the Printstik has that the Editors' Choice-winning iP100 lacks is an included battery, which lasts for 30 prints. In addition, you can connect with an included AC adapter, or plug the printer into the cigarette lighter in your car. It has Bluetooth and also comes with a proprietary USB 2.0 cable, complete with its own cable management system, so you can use it with any laptop. Unfortunately, the only smart phones it works with are BlackBerrys and Pocket PCs (Symbian and iPhone compatibility is coming soon), and it's not yet Mac compatible. That said, we had no problem connecting our BlackBerry Curve to the Printstik via Bluetooth.
Print Speed and Quality
PlanOn claims that the Printstik prints three black-and-white, document-size pages per minute. On our tests, printing a 1-page black-and-white Word document took 1 minute when connected via USB. Although legible, the quality looked faded. It's fine if you're printing directions at the last minute, but we wouldn't recommend using it to print a contract for a client on the spot.
Although printing took only 3 seconds to start, it was excruciatingly slow and noisy. The printer's creaky buzzing caught the attention of everyone sitting in our vicinity.
The PlanOn Printstik provides a solution to what some business travelers find to be a real problem: how to print on the go without access to an outlet. We love the Printstik's lightweight design and that it runs on battery power, but the paper is flimsy, and printing is loud and noisy. Because of these drawbacks, we recommend it with the caveat that travelers use it sparingly. If you don't need a battery-powered mobile printer, however, the heavier but higher quality Canon Pixma iP100 costs 50 dollars less, delivers better speed and prints, and outputs photos, to boot.