HP Deskjet 350CBI
Doing business on the road often entails distributing contracts and other materials. When documents need to be customized, it is convenient to have a mobile printer by your side.
The HP DeskJet 350CBi and Canon BJC-85 portables are both inkjet models that support color and black-and-white printing. They handle small jobs including documents with spot use of color and photographic images.
The stylish HP DeskJet offers solid construction that, according to HP, can withstand a two-and-a-half-foot drop. However, weighing 5.4 pounds, it will add to your travel load. The HP has an attached 30-page sheet feeder, increasing its dimensions, though single sheets can be inserted manually without the attachment.
HP does provide nice extras, including a rechargeable battery with a life of 200 pages and an external infrared adapter for the parallel port. This makes the 350CBi a real tether-free printing system. If your PC notebook has infrared capabilities, simply aim the infrared lens at your laptop and print. This DeskJet model self-charges the battery when used with the AC adapter.
The HP DeskJet 350 Toolbox software offers convenient access to controls for monitoring battery life and cleaning the print cartridge. For fine-tuning of documents, HP's smart software features include color setting and printer orientation. It allows two pages to be printed side by side on a single printed page ideal for drafting handouts and provides watermarks for labeling material as "confidential."
The HP printer produced clear text and images in both black and color. The only problem occurred after swapping the black for the color ink cartridge. The first two or three tries resulted in gibberish.
The 350CBi delivers a fast 5 pages per minute (ppm) for black and 2ppm for color, with 600dpi resolution for text and 600x300dpi for color images. The 350CBi supports Windows 3.1x, 95, 98, NT 4.0, and 2000, as well as Mac OS operating systems. For Macs, the 350CBi includes a USB and a serial port.
The Canon BJC-85 portable color printer offers more than meets the eye. With Canon's optional Color IS-12 Color Image Scanner Cartridge ($99), the printer can also double as a color sheet-fed scanner. Simply replace the Bubble Jet ink cartridge used for printing with the IS-12 scanning cartridge. Documents are fed into the front of the unit. The 360dpi resolution images can be edited with Canon's TWAIN driver interface or other imaging programs.
While the HP printer is more modern and rugged by design, the Canon BJC-85, weighing 3.1 pounds, is much lighter and has a built-in 30-page sheet feeder. It too offers an infrared port, this one built in, for cable-free printing and an optional rechargeable battery with a life of 200 pages.
Canon's Windows software printer interface is more basic than the HP software. Only functions that are supplied by Windows are included. Text and image output in both black and color was clear and more than adequate for business documents.
The BJC-85 prints up to 5ppm for black and 2ppm for color, with resolution of 720 x 360dpi in black and color. It supports Windows 3.1, 95, 98, NT 4.0, and 2000 operating systems, as well as Windows CE for use with PC sub-notebooks and handheld devices. Drivers for the Palm OS can be purchased separately. Parallel and infrared interfaces are included with an extra USB port built in for Mac operating systems.
Both printers can support document production on the road. The Canon BJC-85, however, wins out because of the more travel-friendly design.