This lightweight printer was easy to set up by installing the printer software and driver. Preparing the paper cassette (the cardboard box the paper comes in) was another story -- involving folding along dotted lines and inserting tabs. Since the MPrint determines the paper type depending on the undamaged, correctly installed cassette, I wanted to do it right.

I had some trouble with the first print job when the sheet became caught in the paper path. After turning off the printer, disconnecting the AC adapter and pulling out the paper -- being sure not to tear it as the user's guide instructed me -- I turned the MPrint on again and was able to successfully print a Lilliputian version of a spreadsheet.

I tried the Snapshot software that came with the printer, which lets users highlight selected text they wish to print. The software guide had vague instructions, however, so it took some playing with it to get a decent-looking document. Printing directly from Word and Excel produce magnifying-glass-requiring spreadsheets and text documents. The Snapshot software let me import text from a Word document, and then edit it before printing. This worked fine, though I had to fix some spacing issues in the text, and Snapshot didn't recognize indents.

Snapshot also let me select text and print a screen shot of it. Though the resulting documents were much easier to read than simply printing from Word or Excel -- and there are layout templates and header options to spice them up -- they're also pixelated.

Both the unit and its thermal paper require careful handling, and should be kept out of direct sun and from extremely hot, humid and dusty conditions, which may hinder some mobile uses of the device. Maintenance involves some special tools and procedures: a soft dry cloth, a dry cotton swab to clean the paper cassette sensor and some cellophane tape to clean the paper pick-up roller.

The printer arrived with 50 sheets of C-11 thermal A7-size paper, which measure 2.9 by 4.1 inches. Label sheets and two-ply carbon copy sheets are also available. The unit contains no liquid ink or toner, so there's no worrying about ink spillage, and no need to replace ink.

The unit takes 15 seconds to print a sheet and prints about 100 pages on a fully charged battery. The MPrint does the job relatively quietly.

Unfortunately I didn't have a PDA to test along with the printer. I used a laptop, so it was difficult to see the full usefulness of the MPrint. It looks handy for printing receipts, work order tickets, labels, conference badges, notes and maybe short e-mails and lists. Perhaps the PDA-savvy would really like to have printouts that are roughly the same size as the screen they're used to dealing with regularly. The printer is also compatible with smart phones. If you're on the road and absolutely must have something printed, or have small, specific print needs, this printer may just have the versatility you seek.

Rating: 3 out 5

Specifications

  • Built-in lithium-ion battery

  • Dimensions: 3.9x6.3x0.7 inches

  • Weight: 11 ounces

  • 300x300 dpi resolution

  • Prints up to 100 pages continuously with a fully charged battery

  • USB interface to link with tablets and notebooks

  • InfraRed (IrDA) interface for wireless communication with smart phones and PDAs

  • Blutooth version also available

  • Cost: $300
    Miriam Jones  |  Chief Copy Editor

    Miriam Jones is chief copy editor of Government Technology, Governing, Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines. She joined e.Republic in 2000 as an editor of Converge magazine.