by Al Sacco

CES Brings Two New Ways to Print Images, Documents from Your Mobile Device Without Ink

Jan 07, 20083 mins
Data Center

Along with today’s commencement of the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas came the announcement of two new mobile printers that let you print wirelessly from your BlackBerry, digital camera or other mobile device—and neither of them require ink.

The Polaroid Digital Instant Mobile Photo Printer and the PRINTSTIK PS910 from gadget maker PlanOn both use environmentally-friendly thermal printing technology to do away with messy ink cartridges. The Polaroid gizmo uses ZINK Paper made of “advanced composite material” embedded with yellow, magenta and cyan dye crystals that activate and colorize when heat is applied. PRINTSTIK uses similar thermal paper.

PlanOn PRINTSTIK mobile printer

Both printers connect to mobile devices via USB or Bluetooth, and they print images or documents in less than a minute—in fact, PlanOn says PRINTSTIK can print three documents in 60 seconds. The images or text apparently don’t smudge, either. Each sheet of ZINK Paper costs about 40 cents, according to the Associated Press, and the PRINTSTIK paper comes in sets of three cartridges with 20 sheet in each for $24.99—about 42 cents a sheet.

Makes you wonder how much longer those noisy office printers will still be using ink. Thermal paper will have to take a rather hefty price cut before that happens, though.

The most notable differences between the two are their sizes, and the fact that the Polaroid printer won’t be available until later this year. The 1.5-pound PRINTSTIK is available now for $299, and it’s significantly larger so that it can print full, 8.5 inch by 11 inch documents. It’s an inch in height, almost 11 inches wide and nearly 2 inches deep. The eight-ounce Polaroid Instant Mobile Photo Printer only prints two inch by three inch peel-and-stick photos, but it is significantly more mobile. It will retail for about $150, the AP reports.

Both of these guys are cool, and I’d love to give ’em a test drive, but PRINTSTIK is clearly better suited to businesspeople. We’ve all experienced the frustration of leaving important documents behind at the office, but PRINTSTIK offers a simple solution. Simply connect to the printer and, voila, you’ve got your airplane boarding pass, driving directions or the notes for your next meeting. The Polaroid printer wouldn’t be too helpful in those instances, due to the small size of its printer paper. PRINTSTIK’s 8.5 inch by 11 inch paper could also be used to print documents or message attachments received via smartphone, so you wouldn’t need to strain your eyes on those tiny screens.