Best portable printers of 2021
The best portable printers are fantastically versatile devices that allow you to print out photos, documents and receipts practically anywhere you go.
So, don’t think that printers have to be big bulky devices that need to be wired into your network or hooked up to a PC. Instead, the best portable printers are compact enough to easily carry around with you, are powered by batteries, and can connect to your laptop, tablet or smartphone via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth (or both).
This makes them ideal for printing off photos from your phone, for example. And, while portable printers are smaller than normal printers, that doesn’t mean they aren’t able to provide the same level of print quality. As we mentioned earlier, many portable printers are designed for printing photographs, so as you’d imagine, they offer excellent print quality, especially when used with photo paper.
So, with Black Friday coming soon, now’s the perfect time to start looking for the best portable printers money can buy, and to make things easier, we’ve listed our top picks right here.
Best portable printers:
By using inkless thermal print technology, which relies on fewer moving parts, Brother has reduced this portable printer to the size of a small baguette. What’s more, the only consumable you need is the special thermal paper itself, making this pocket-sized device perfect for taking on the road, or carrying onto a plane. It comes with both power adapter and battery pack, so you can use it anywhere and while Wi-Fi is built in, you don’t need to rely on finding a network to connect with your device because it also offers Wi-Fi Direct and a mini USB port. It prints, quickly enough with the black and white pages emerging as sharp and detailed as any laser printer.
Epson has managed to distill all of the elements of a colour inkjet printer into something small enough to fit in a briefcase and possibly even a handbag. It uses four smaller-than-usual ink cartridges to produce up to A4-size prints at a very crisp and colourful 5,760 x 1,440 dpi resolution. The plastic casing is textured for grip and when unfolded, it becomes the paper input tray which can hold up to twenty sheets of plain paper. The lithium-ion battery can be fast changed with the bundled charger, or by connecting the supplied USB cable to any powered USB port. It doesn’t print quickly and unsurprisingly there’s no auto duplex mode, but for mobile printing, this is excellent quality.
Read the full review: Epson WorkForce WF-110
Canon has done well to shrink this full color inkjet printer to a size that will fit easily into a briefcase without compromising print quality. It comes with key features such as Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct connectivity, an OLED screen and the ability to store custom templates. These could be useful for repeat printing whatever forms your business uses regularly. You can power it from any live USB port, like the one in your car for example, and an optional rechargeable battery is available. It’s compatible with AirPrint and Google Cloud Print making it easy to print from your mobile device.
HP has managed to shrink the inkjet printer to the size of a cigar box while adding a battery compartment. The result is a highly portable device that can turn out crisp colour documents at a rate of 10 per minute in mono, or 7 in colour. There’s no duplex mode, unsurprisingly, but it can handle envelopes and photo paper and photo paper of any size up to A4. With Wi-Fi Direct and a USB port available, you really can print from anywhere with this ingenious device.
This small and stylish inkjet requires a power point as there’s no battery option, but in all other respects, it’s the perfect portable printer. Weighing just 6.5kg, it fits easily in a bag and the ‘X’ edition seen here includes a fabric cover to protect it in transit. It also acts as a mat to catch your printed paper. There’s no inbuilt scanner but the excellent companion app can harness your smartphone’s camera to grab, straighten and copy documents. It’ll print on envelopes or photo paper of any size up to A4 and turn out pages at reasonable rate of 11ppm. HP has dispensed with the USB port altogether because its wireless skills include everything from Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, to AirPrint and Google Cloud Print making it perhaps the most flexible device for cloud printing that we have come across.
This (almost) pocket-sized printer is probably the easiest way to turn photos on your smartphone, or your Instax camera, into physical prints. Using an evolution of the technology used in Kodak’s instant cameras, Fijifilm’s inkless system sears the image onto square format photo paper. Neither the printer, nor the paper are cheap and the printer itself has few features other than Wi-Fi. Nonetheless, the photos it produces are colourful and accurate, if a little soft and pale. It has to be the most rewarding way to turn a great photo into a physical memento that can be passed around and stuck to the wall.
Read the full review: Fujifilm Instax Share SP-3
Polaroid’s Zinc (zero ink) technology is used to great effect in this highly portable and well thought-out printer. It is slim enough to slip into a shoulder bag and weighs only 162g and most of that weight belongs to the 900mAh battery. The Polaroid photo paper is rather expensive and limits you to 2×3-inch prints but the results always look colourful, detailed and charmingly retro. And no, shaking does not make the image develop faster.
The latest in HP’s portable photo printer line ditches ZINK for an inkjet-based system and prints on the slightly larger 10x15cm format. That makes the Studio, the Sprocket that won’t fit in your pocket, but also the one with the best image quality. The proprietary ink/paper packages are rather pricey, but the system yields vivid results and it is lots of fun to use. Up to three users can connect to it over Bluetooth and use the excellent companion app to print from. The app offers lots of templates and stock images with which to spice up your photos.
This marvel of miniaturisation manages to combine a scanner and full color inkjet printer in a device that will fit in a travel bag. It also has a small display, an automatic document feed (ADF), Wi-Fi and a rechargeable battery. Its especially small inkjet cartridges produce a surprisingly high yield and the print quality and print speed are equal to the average office inkjet. In short, this is a decent all-round desktop all-in-one that happens to have been shrunk to the size of a washbag.
This portable printer could almost slide into a jacket pocket and yet it is capable of printing onto A4-sized paper. By using thermal imprinting, instead of impact printing which requires ink and many more moving parts, this battery-powered device requires no consumables other than the special thermal paper. What differentiates this model from most portable printers is the addition of MFi (Made For iPhone) making it easier to sync with Mac and iOS devices over Bluetooth. With a battery that lasts for 100 prints and no ink limitations, you really can print from anywhere with this rugged and highly portable device.
- Check out our picks for the best photo printers
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