If your business keeps you out of the office and on the move, a mobile printer could make your work life smoother and more efficient. The compact HP Officejet 150 Mobile All-in-One Printer gives you the capability to print, scan and copy on the go. The lightweight printer weighs in at 6.8 pounds with the battery pack attached, and it supports up to A4-sized paper.
HP claims it delivers professional-quality documents. We put the small business printer through its paces to see whether it lives up to those claims.
Mobile Printer Specifications
The Officejet 150's compact, rectangular shape measures just 13.98- x 6.95- x 3.52-inches with all its flaps closed. You can print using a wired connection using the printer's integrated USB 2.0 port, the PicBridge compatible port, or from images from stored on a SD Card. The package does not come bundled with a USB cable; you need to provide your own.
The Officejet 150 supports Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) for wireless printing from laptops and supported smartphones. Note that the mobile printer supports only the Windows Phone and BlackBerry smartphone platform, and the latter requires a third-party service provider with additional fees. The PicBridge port doubles as a USB port for plugging in a USB flash drive.
A resistive 2.36-inch color touchscreen facilitates access to the printer's scan and copy capabilities. The Officejet 150 All-in-One's printing capability supports a range of desktop platforms including Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. The two installation discs that come with the package contain the software drivers for Windows 8, OS X 10.8, as well as earlier versions of Windows and Mac OS.
Figure 1:The HP Officejet 150 All-in-One Mobile Printer
Under the hood, the Officejet 150 uses two printer cartridges: A black cartridge and a color (cyan/magenta/yellow) cartridge. It supports borderless printouts, though only up to 4- x 6-inch sizes. While the paper tray accepts 50 sheets of paper, the scanner tray is single-sheet only. The Officejet 150 has a maximum monthly duty cycle of 500 pages, though the recommended printing volume is pegged at just 100 to 500 pages per month.
Navigating the HP Officejet 150 All-in-One Mobile Printer
Hewlett-Packard designed the Officejet 150 with no protruding parts for easy transportation. Moreover, the design makes it highly resistant to minor knocks and bumps—a good feature in a mobile printer.
When you're ready to print, you open the top cover—which folds back at a slight angle—to form a 50-sheet paper tray. Opening the cover also reveals a control panel in the form of the color touch screen that pops up at an angle. Unlike the capacitance touch screen found on modern smartphones, the resistive panel requires some pressure for commands to be detected, which can take some time getting used to. You also initiate scan and copy actions from the control panel.
The touch screen divides the all-in-one printer's core operations between "Copy," "Scan," and "Photo," which you select by tapping on the appropriate icons. Two rows of physical buttons line both sides of the screen. These buttons handle navigation actions such as "back," as well as shortcuts to jump straight to the "Home" and "Settings" page. Overall, the printer's menu interface is intuitive and easy to use.
Before printing wirelessly, you must first pair the printer with your notebook, via Bluetooth, and install the requisite software drivers. Once done, printing from the Officejet 150 is no different than with a USB printer. Print jobs dispatch quickly with no hint that they were submitted wirelessly. Printing speed is fast, and the quality of the printout is good enough for professional use, as claimed. In a nutshell, the Officejet 150 performs no differently than other non-mobile inkjet printers.
However, the copying and scanning speed is a bit of a letdown at 45-50 seconds for a color sheet. In addition, scanning or copying more than half a dozen sheets at a time is a lesson in patience given that the sheet-fed scanner tray accepts only one sheet at a time. On the plus side, you can scan documents to the PC wirelessly, to an inserted SD Card, or to a USB external storage device. And you can save scanned files as a standard JPEG or PDF file.
The Appeal of Mobile Printing
The HP Officejet 150's primary appeal is that it lets you work away from a power socket. The printer's lithium ion battery—about the thickness of a whiteboard marker, but almost twice as long—snaps easily onto the printer's back panel.
HP says the battery allows the Officejet 150 to print up to 500 pages on a full charge. The battery recharged fairly quickly in our tests—an empty battery took less than two hours to be fully charged. Charging takes place automatically whenever you plug the printer back into a power socket.
Note that the printer consumes a very small (0.4 watts) of power even when it's switched off, making it a good idea to detach the battery pack when not in use. Mobile users who are frequently on the road have the option of purchasing an additional battery pack or the car charger accessory, both of which cost $79.99 each.
The built-in Bluetooth further enhances the appeal of the Officejet 150 by eliminating the need to work with USB cables when printing outside the office. Finally, we did not notice any difference in performance whether we powered the Officejet 150 from a wall socket or from the battery pack.
The HP Officejet 150 All-in-One Printer is highly portable, easy to use and, and it delivers reasonable performance. While not small enough to fit into a laptop bag, it prints quickly for such a small device—in both black and white, and color. Ultimately, the capability to copy and scan documents makes it a truly exceptional multifunction printer for sales teams and executives who travel often.
On the flip side, design trade-offs saddle the printer with limitations such as a single-sheet scanner tray, slow copying speed, and low monthly duty cycle. Depending on your business situation this could be a deal-breaker. And remember, the Officejet 150 is intended for mobile use; its duty cycle is not designed for use as a generic multifunction printer for use in the office.
The HP Officejet 150 All-in-One Printer sells for MSRP of $399.99. The relatively high price means that it will appeal only to those who have a specific need for an all-in-one mobile printer when they're on the move.
Paul Mah covers technology for SMBs for Small Business Computing and for IT Business Edge. He also shares his passion for and knowledge of everything from networking to operating systems as an instructor at Republic Polytechnic in Singapore, and is a contributor to a number of tech sites, including Ars Technica and TechRepublic.
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