Have you ever needed to print a photo or document in the car or away from home? If you run into this situation frequently, it might be time to grab a portable printer.
Not everybody needs a portable printer (some people don’t even have a printer in their house, let alone one that they can slip in a briefcase). But if you’re out in the field a lot for your job, and your job required printed documents like invoices or estimates, a good printer you can use right from the seat of your car or a client’s kitchen counter is invaluable.
Portable printers are more powerful and affordable than ever before. For the price of a regular, full-sized printer, you could buy a portable, battery-powered printer that’s about the size of a shoe box. Most portable printers are compatible with your cell phone, and some can even connect to the cloud, which makes it easy for you to print documents for work or school at the last minute.
But, like any other piece of technology, it’s hard to shop for the perfect portable printer. They all have different features and specifications that may be good for one person and bad for another. For example, if you need to print high-quality photos, then you don’t want to use a printer that has a low resolution. Luckily, most of the work’s been done for you. We’ve selected our favorite portable printers and figured out their strengths and shortcomings. Whether you need a cloud-compatible device or a dedicated mobile photo printer, we’ve got the right portable printer for you.
HP OfficeJet 250 Portable Printer ($280)
If you need a portable printer that can also scan documents, then you should take a look at the battery-powered HP OfficeJet 250. It features a 10-page document feeder, so you can easily process a large stack of papers or documents in the car or at a hotel. When you need to print a photo or document on the OfficeJet, you can do it via USB, Wi-Fi, or from your phone with the HP ePrint app. The OfficeJet prints documents at a resolution of 4800 x 1200 dpi, which is a good resolution for business documents or schoolwork (but not really good enough for photo printing).
Really, this is a great all-around portable printer. It’s got the scanner, it’s got the app, and it can fit in your backpack. While the OfficeJet may not be your first choice for photo printing, it’s a great tool for scanning and printing documents on the go.
Epson WorkForce WF-100 Mobile Printer ($230)
The Epson WorkFroce WF-100 is the speedy workhorse of portable printing. It has a resolution of 5760 x 1440 dpi, and can print both full-size documents as well as borderless 4 x 6 photos. It’s a great device for people who need to carry a very small printer in a backpack or tote bag, because it can wirelessly print from a phone, tablet, or computer via Wi-Fi direct, and it can charge from a Micro USB cable or AC adapter. The WorkForce also has a unique auto-shutoff feature to save battery life, which is great for people who are always in a hurry.
Speaking of people who are always in a hurry, the WorkForce also supports Amazon Dash, which means that it can detect when you’re running out of ink and automatically order some more. Yeah, this sounds like a great way to burn some money, but it’s also a neat feature for people who always forget to buy ink.
The only real downside to this printer is that it doesn’t work as a scanner (it only costs about $50 less than the HP OfficeJet 250, which has a scanner). But the WorkForce prints at a higher resolution than the HP Officejet with photo printing too, and it’s a lot more convenient and easy to use. That being said, the WorkForce it’s a great portable printer if you don’t need to scan any documents.
Canon Pixma iP110 Cloud Printer ($130)
The Canon Pixma iP110 is a powerful, affordable portable printer. Oddly enough, it has a higher resolution than the expensive Epson Workforce and HP Deskjet printers. The Pixma prints photos and documents at 9600 x 2400 dpi, which is more than enough for most professional purposes. Not to mention, the Pixma can print 4 x 6 photos, which makes it a great option for creatives as well as businesspeople. It has a good battery life, and it’s only about a foot wide, so it can fit in your backpack or tote bag.
Sadly, you can’t use the Pixma to scan or copy documents. But, the printer can print directly from your phone using the Air Print, Google Cloud Print, and the Canon Print apps. These apps add an element of cloud compatibility to the Pixma, and it makes it easier to print documents that friends and coworkers have shared with you.
Again, the Pixma is a great, affordable portable printer. It may not be as versatile as the WorkForce, and it may not have a scanner, but it prints high-quality photos and it’s relatively inexpensive.
HP DeskJet 1112 Compact Printer ($30)
Some people don’t need to print documents while they’re in the car or at the airport without any expensive bells and whistles. The HP DeskJet 1112 Compact Printer is a great compact printer for people who occasionally need to bring a printer out of the house. It doesn’t have a battery, which limits its portability, but it’s small enough to throw in the backseat of your car, and it costs less than a big meal at a restaurant.
Oh, a quick heads up… If you like the price of this printer, but you need something that can be used in the car or away from an outlet, then I’d suggest pairing it with a car power inverter or a mobile power bank. No sense having a portable printer you can’t use with the same ease you use your laptop.
So, what can a $30 printer do? Well, it can print at a resolution of 1200 x 1200 dpi, which is fine for text documents, invoices, or schoolwork. Although the HP DeskJet 1112 doesn’t have Wi-Fi compatibility or a mobile app, it does have a USB cable that you can connect to your computer. And it doesn’t have a scanner, but you could always use apps like CamScan if you find yourself in a situation where you need to scan a document.
Again, the HP DeskJet printer lacks a lot of functions, but it’s good at printing documents and it’s cheap as hell. It’s only about the size of a shoebox, so it’s good for when you occasionally need to take a printer on the road to a hotel or a client’s house.
Kodak Dock Wi-Fi Mobile Photo Printer ($140)
If you’re specifically looking for a portable photo printer, then you should take a look at the Kodak Dock. It’s high-quality photo printer that can print directly from your phone, laptop, tablet, USB stick, or digital camera via USB cable or Lightning power cable. It can also connect to your social media accounts or email addresses, which is useful for printing photos that you don’t have saved on your phone. Here’s the thing; the Kodak Dock can’t print standard sized documents. It exclusively prints 4 x 6 photos. But it prints 4 x 6 photos better than any other portable printer, which is a lot to say for a device that’s smaller than a shoebox.
The Kodak Dock uses dye-sublimation technology to produce photos. While the dye-sublimation process is similar to the Zinc thermal printing process, it produces photos that are a lot more true to color. That’s because it uses a peripheral ink cartridge that can process about 40 sheets of Kodak 4 x 6 premium photo paper. You can’t use any other ink cartridges with this device, and you’ll want to use high-quality photo paper to make the prints worth it. See where this is going? The Kodak Dock is a great solution for printing high-quality photos on the go, but it’s a lot more expensive and less versatile than a traditional photo printer. But, you know, that’s the trade-off for printing sharp photos away from home. If the idea of photo printing away from home is intriguing to you, be sure to check out our roundup of portable mini-photo printers here.