Here in 2015, nearly everybody in tech, it seems, is making moves to miniaturize their technology. Some desktop PCs are getting down to the size of iPhones. It’s impossible to ignore the popularity of candy-bar-thin smartphones and tiny wireless headsets. A few latest-generation laptops are thinner than yesterday’s tablets.
But some technologies are more suited to shrinking down than others—and one we seldom associate with the smallify-ing trend is printers.
Reason one: If you want to print to paper that’s letter-size or thereabouts, your printer’s body can only be so narrow and still handle the paper stock. Over the years, we’ve seen a variety of compact printers designed for printing snapshot-size photos, using inkjet or thermal-dye technologies, prominent among them models in Canon’s Selphy line. (See, for example, our review of the Selphy CP900$64.29 at Amazon.com.) A few are still on the market. These models are indeed compact, but they’re niche-use products. Their bodies and feeders limit them to use with 4×6-inch (and in rare cases, 5×7-inch) output. You wouldn’t use them for printing a picture today, and a Word document tomorrow.
Even so, a few mobile inkjet printers capable of handling bigger paper have been around for some time. And over time, they have become remarkable little tools in their own right, much like the subject of this review: Canon’s $249.99-list Pixma iP110.
When we say “mobile” or “portable,” we don’t quite mean that in the smartphone sense. The Pixma iP110 is small enough to pick up and carry with you, though not really compact enough to slide into a purse or briefcase without a second thought, like you might an Apple iPad or a really skinny ultraportable laptop. But its Wi-Fi connectivity and lack of wires (if you use this printer with Canon’s optional battery connected—more on that later) are highly convenient for use when you’re out and about—say, in a vehicle or on a work site without ready access to a power outlet. Printing off the battery might also impress at a client location, where you might not want to impose and ask to string a power adapter to an AC outlet.
Out of the gate, though, the one thing most mobile printers have in common is a high purchase price, relative to what they can do versus full-size, desk-side printers. A big portion of the price for these little printers stems from their miniaturization. (It also keeps down the size of their ink tanks, which is reflected in their per-page costs, which we’ll discuss in detail later.) Epson’s competing WorkForce WF-100 Mobile Printer, for example, lists for $349.99 and sells for around $250 online. (We’ve got a review of this unit in the works.) And HP’s Officejet 150 Mobile All-in-One (which also performs scans and makes copies) sells for $300 to $370, off of a $399.99 MSRP. HP also sells a single-function version of that Officejet, the $279-list Officejet 100 Mobile Printer, which has been around since 2011 and sells for around the same price as the Pixma iP110.
These prices may make our Canon review unit’s pricing (which comes in at $249.99 list and around $170 to $200 on the street) seem more moderate. However, you need to realize that out of the box, this is not a strictly mobile printer. You need to add Canon’s optional $99.99-MSRP battery to the mix, and if you do, the Pixma iP110 is then no cheaper than the others, and costlier than some.
Price aside, though, this model marches to a rather different beat than the Epson and HP models we just mentioned. As you might glean from the family names borne by the HP and Epson mobile models, they are business-oriented printers meant first for documents and business-graphics printing. This Pixma, though, like so many Pixmas we’ve worked with across the years, is a photo printer first, optimized for image output from snapshot-size to letter.
While the WorkForce- and Officejet-brand mobile printers are little office-optimized machines, not primarily photo printers, they print photographs well enough for most uses. If, for whatever reason, you prefer that your mobile printer specialize in photos before business documents, the Pixma iP110 is a fine match—if you can stomach the ink costs.
Maybe you’re a photographer who needs to print on-the-spot proofs or samples. Or perhaps you’re a real-estate professional who needs to let a client, on occasion, take home a hard copy of an interior room’s image. In these cases, you won’t be disappointed by the image quality you will get. Indeed, you’d be hard-pressed to top it in a mobile printer, outside of the snapshot-size-only models.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.