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Mobile printing

On Monday I received a new piece of technology that I’ve long needed: a “mobile printer”. When we first started traveling full-time it seemed to me that all printers where mobile once you put them in a travel trailer. My HP 1022 laser printer has been “mobile” since I bought it in Springfield MO during the International Rally in 2005. But the trusty 1022, while on the small side for laser printers, is still fairly bulky, and it doesn’t fit in any of the trailer’s interior storage compartments. It has been riding across the country on the floor of the bedroom for three years, right where I can accidentally step on it as I get out of bed.

h470-printer.gifAfter three years and 60,000+ miles of bouncing down the road, it now has a cracked paper tray and a few other bruises. More importantly, I’m tired of it taking up my floor space. I’m going to retire it to home-based use back in Tucson, and switch to the sexy new HP H470. It folds up into a very compact package that I can store almost anywhere, plus it has two huge advantages for people like me who work in a tiny space.

Number 1 is the fact that it can run off 12 volt power or an internal battery. I decided to go with the internal battery, so I can use it when we are boondocking. A big issue I’ve had with the 1022 laser printer is that it requires up to 300 watts of AC power when running, and being a fussy piece of electronics, it wants that power to be of the best quality, meaning a pure sine wave. It doesn’t like the square wave produced by most cheap inverters. To run it we’d either need a very expensive high-quality inverter with 300-watt capability.

Instead, an ink jet makes a lot more sense. Ink jets run on relatively little power so a battery is feasible, and they don’t mind cheezy square wave (misleadingly called “modified sine wave”) inverters. I’m going to run my ink jet on the rechargeable battery because it is more convenient than wiring up the power cable when I want to print a single page.

Number 2 advantage is that the HP H470 has wireless capability. That makes it really easy to use. I’ll just take it out of the padded sleeve (which Eleanor is going to make for me), drop it on the bed and insert some paper. Voila — ready to print. No cables to the power or to my computer. Wireless is always good in a small space, especially since I often have to work on the bed or from outside. It’s also nice for Eleanor, since we can now both use the printer at the same time from different locations in or around the trailer.

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