When Planon first approached me about reviewing their PrintStik Bluetooth printer, my first thoughts were “Wow! Printing from my BlackBerry? That sounds cool.” The PrintStik works as advertised and prints wirelessly from your BlackBerry with ease! Planon did an admirable job of creating a working and easy to use wireless printer. The problem is that I really could not think of one good use for it. It compromises on quite a few critical things to make it truly a mobile printer which severely limit its usefulness. On the other hand, it does work, which is a pretty amazing.
For those of you who believe a picture is worth a 1000 words:
Check out the details in the full review…
Planon created a pretty cool product with the PrintStik. It comes in a nice carrying case and is a small little compact printer. The printer is quite heavy for its size, weighing in at more than a pound.
It only has two buttons. One that turns it on and another one that feeds paper out.
The top of the printer is where the old-school thermal fax like paper comes out.
If you push open the little clip on the side, you will see where the paper comes from and is stored. Once you pull the paper out, it is annoying to feed it back in. So this makes refilling the paper cartridges a bit cumbersome.
It has a built in battery that charges over MiniUSB so you can use the same charger on your BlackBerry! They throw in both an AC charger and a retractable USB charger.
Now on to the printing itself. The printer is not a normal inkjet printer. It is kind of like a receipt or old fax machine that prints using heat on special paper. Each roll of paper prints about 30 pages and then you need to buy refills for $24.99 for a three pack. You cannot just use regular fax paper cartridges since the paper is attached into the roll. The printer prints very slow even though they claim 3 pages per minute. The more detail or text you have, the longer it takes. The battery also only lasts for about 20 pages so you will need to recharge before printing more, or carry around the charger too. (Though I cannot imagine printing out more than a page)
The printer also does not cut the paper at the end of each page so you need to cut it yourself on the serrated edge. The problem is that this is not that sharp so when you try to cut you end up with jagged or torn edges. This makes the end product look very unprofessional. I wish they had a little razor/paper cutter that you could slide across the opening to cut the paper off the roll.
The printer requires that you install 3 different applications on your phone to print from it. I needed to download the new install files from their website to get it to work with my Bold. Not sure about other devices. Sadly, these applications cannot be installed OTA and need to be installed using the Desktop Manager. A real pain for me since I practically never connect my computer to my berry except for OS upgrades.
The three applications installed are the printer driver, printer settings application, and a file explorer. The printer driver makes sense, but I am not sure why they need a separate settings application. The file explorer is practically useless since you cannot see anything you would want to print.
There is not much in terms of printer settings. Margin settings, font size, and image resolution. No explanation of what that last one does… The application also looks like it was designed in the 1980s.
The printer driver just adds two options to every email menu. Print and print emails. The first prints your email in a flat line style as you can see below, even if it is an HTML email.
The other one prints a list of every email you have in your inbox along with the subject line and the sender’s name. I could not think of one good use for this…
Sending files to print is almost instantaneous and works quite well as you can see below:
The text is kind of faded like receipt paper since it is printing with a thermal printer. Just like receipts and old faxes, you cannot expose the paper to heat or else it will turn black and text may fade.
So I kept this printer around for more than a month just dying to find a reason to use it and show it off, but the opportunity never arose. It’s a shame since the PrintStik is a very well engineered product. I was thinking that maybe it can be used to print some last minute legal documents, but who would submit or sign a piece of paper if the paper and ink would not last… Or maybe it could be used to print out some forms and then photocopy them before they fade or darken.
- It works like a charm
- Fast printing
- Small size
- Same charger as BlackBerry
- Slow printing
- Expensive paper & price
- Clunky applications required for use
- Hard to separate paper after printing
Conclusion: The PrintStik is a functioning mobile printer that works as advertised. The reason I gave it a 7 was because it actually works without any technical problems. On the other hand, I could not come up with one situation where the convenience would outweigh the fact that it is using thermal paper. The biggest plus for the PrintStik is that regular non-thermal mobile printers usually weigh in about 2-3 times as heavy and require you to also purchase ink. In short, if you can think of a situation where a mobile printer would help you, then the PrintStik will fit the bill. Otherwise, you are better off walking to the nearest Staples, Office Depot, or Kinko’s.