Looking for a tiny mobile printer to mate with your handheld? If you have any use for printouts about the size of a Post-it Note, consider the Brother mPrint MW-140BT. But before you splurge on this $400 device, note that it prints only on proprietary 3x4-inch thermal paper. Restaurants use the mPrint for quick receipts; government agencies use it to certify inspections; and sales pros use it to make temporary contracts. If you need such bite-size printouts, this gadget may please you and impress your colleagues. But the more practical portable choice would be a small, full-featured color inkjet printer that works with letter-size pages, such as the
When you slide the Brother MW-140BT out of your suit pocket, people might mistake it for an antique cigarette tin. This quirky, sleek metallic contraption measures only 6.25 by 4 by 0.7 inches (LWD) and weighs about 10 ounces with its battery and paper cartridge installed.
You can connect the mPrint via its mini USB port and provided cable to a standard Windows PC; the unit ships with Windows drivers. When we fed the MW-140BT a full Microsoft Word page of text from a PC, the printer reduced and silently printed the page in 16 seconds. The tiny 3-point text was perfectly clear, as were screenshots and other grayscale images on the 3x4-inch sheets. But this printer really comes into its own when you power up its Bluetooth adapter to talk to a PDA and print screen captures, schedules, contacts, and to-do lists. We used two Brother utilities to print via Bluetooth from a Pocket PC device: PrintPocketCE adds a print dialog to your PDA's PocketWord and PocketExcel, so you can specify the number of copies to print, as well as how to orient and collate the pages. Brother also includes comparable utilities for Palm OS devices.
Unlike some battery-operated wireless printers, such as those at car-rental agencies, the MW-140BT doesn't work with rolls of paper, which means there's only one consumable, but an expensive one: Brother charges $4.49 for a 50-sheet pack, or 9 cents a page. A 30-pack of full-sheet labels costs $7.49, a quarter each; and the same number of two-ply "carbon" papers costs $9.49, or about 32 cents each. Brother's tiny sheets don't feel gritty, smell bad, or look grayish and supposedly won't fade like thermal papers from the past. The second-sheet "carbon" copy pages are specified to last a decade.
The three-ounce battery charger is designed to power the mPrint and last 100 pages on one charge. You'll have to send the printer back to Brother to swap out the lithium-ion battery once it fades, which should be about three years from your purchase, and the company pays shipping and sends a substitute during the downtime.
This device includes a standard one-year warranty with toll-free phone tech support available weekdays from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET, as well as 24/7 fax-back support via a toll-free number. You can access FAQs, manuals, driver downloads, and e-mail help at Brother's Web site. Brother also runs a program to assist developers building vertical applications that incorporate the printer.