PLANon Printstik-portable A4 printer.
This is a Bluetooth and USB connected device, so it works with a PDA or a PC. The unit needs charging, which takes 3 hours via the mains charger supplied, or 4 hours via a PC connection, using the printers USB cable.
The charging sequence went smoothly, and the printer unit started to charge as soon as the cable was plugged in. (A charge is good for 30 pages)
The software also installed easily, although we did notice that the only help phone number displayed was a USA one.
When the unit was switched on once charged, it's Bluetooth connection linked to a PDA (Palm TREO 750) without any problems. The LED indicator lights are extremely bright and distracting when in close proximity to the PC/PDA being used.
The PC (Dell INSPIRON 9300) intended for use for the test did not have Bluetooth installed. (Despite a call to Dell and a visit to their download page, there were problems setting this. We would not set anything by this as another PC which shall remain nameless connected first time.
It's slightly immaterial really, as this device will be used in cases where a print is a necessity rather than a given, so waiting twenty to thirty seconds for a print is neither here nor there. (Providing it is charged!)
The paper used is the type of direct thermal printing paper found in old fax machines and POS units for printing sales receipts. As such, prints should not be subjected to
long-term exposure to light as it will fade. If you do print something you need to keep as a record, we would recommend getting a plain paper copy when convenient.
The trial unit came with the paper already loaded, so we detached the paper holder to see how easy it was to load. There were no specific instructions on how to load the paper, so the logical step was to tilt the two paper-holder guide-rods away from the main unit (assuming this would open up the paper path). We then attempted to feed the paper in to the take-up point. (There is a button on the front next to the on/off switch for paper feed.) After 10 minutes of failed attempts to get the paper to take-up, we found that folding the leading edge over by about half an inch seemed to work better. Once the paper takes up you place the paper holder back on to the guide rods and close the unit. The paper fed OK, almost immediately straightening out ready for use.
When a print is complete you simply tear off the print ready for the next one.
The paper roll is quite small (20 pages) so carrying a spare when away from base would be sensible.
On balance it is a good idea let down slightly by poor/no documentation. Clear instruction on how to set up the paper would be helpful, but on completing the task for the first time, your training is over. As for setting up the connectivity, there is no instruction for USB, and although the Blackberry is used as an example of Bluetooth connection, every PDA has it's own rules.
BUILD QUALITY: GOOD
Feels solid and well built despite its small size. (400gr/14oz)
Minimal hardware to set up. Can be set up as a wireless printer which uses Bluetooth connectivity, or via the USB 2.0 port.
Simple software install from a single disk. Win XP and Win Vista only provided.
A5 size fold-out style Quick-Start Guide of 6 pages in English only.
The instructions cover charging, setup, and coupling via Bluetooth to Blackberry or PC.
They do not cover USB connection or paper changing.
EASE OF USE: MEDIUM
The unit can only be charged via the (supplied) mains adaptor, or the (supplied) USB 'charger cable'
The printer proved fairly easy to set up, but novices to the Bluetooth method of connection may need to seek help if they run into difficulties.
PRINT QUALITY: GOOD
Clear print ability with good rendition of images and graphics.
--Extendible USB charger cable
--Mains power adaptor (multi-country)
--Carry case (semi-rigid)
--Software comprising Win XP and Vista drivers.
A reasonably well thought out, and relatively easy to use, compact printer.
As with the scanner we reviewed in the last issue, these slim-line items are perfect for those on the move with limited carry space with an occasional need to print.
--Charge times (3 hours off mains, 4 hours off USB cable)
--Loading paper (quirky and requires a degree of patience)
Very slim, light-weight, portable and ideal for occasional urgent print requirements.
Easy to use, perfect for the traveller. Test PC did not have Bluetooth installed and for some this might be a problem. Quirky paper setup, but once loaded, works great.
******* 70% 7/10