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Wireless mobile printing in the desert

The HP Deskjet 460 wbt is a good, easy-to-use mobile wireless printer. But photo prints seem to take forever.

A desert rest stop just a few miles into New Mexico seemed as good a place as any to test wireless printing. Daniel Terdiman/CNET

LORDSBURG, N.M.--Sometimes, as in climbing Mount Everest, you have to do something just because you can.

For more than a week now, I've been carting a box full of high-tech gear with me on Road Trip 2007, my sojourn around the Southwest.

Using the Hewlett-Packard Deskjet 460 wbt, I printed a Word document easily and entirely wirelessly in the middle of a desert rest stop. Daniel Terdiman/CNET

One of the gadgets in that box is the Hewlett-Packard Deskjet 460 wbt, a mobile, Bluetooth-enabled printer designed for the road warrior. I guess I count as one of those.

That's why, in the middle of my drive from Tucson, Ariz., to White Sands National Monument near Las Cruces, N.M., I decided to pull off at a rest stop and test out this device.

I took out my computer, got online via Verizon Wireless' EV-DO network, and then unpacked the printer.

The first thing I tried was printing a Word document. I hit print, and seconds later, a clean, fresh piece of paper spat out of the printer, struggling against the wind to not blow away.

The HP 460 Deskjet wbt does a good job printing photos, but it's very slow. Daniel Terdiman/CNET

That done, I decided to print a photo. So I opened iPhoto on my Mac, loaded a nice photo from my visit to the Titan Missile Museum yesterday, put a piece of photo paper in the printer, and hit print.

Nothing happened. At least, that's how it seemed. The printer made some noise, but nothing really seemed to be happening. So I began to write this entry, uploaded the other two photos, and then looked down and noticed that the photo was actually printing. Just very, very slowly.

So, here we are. I have to hit the road, and the photo's not done printing.

My instant review of the printer: Fantastic for printing a Word doc. Quick, nice quality, easy as can be.

As for photo printing: The quality (from what I can see of the photo protruding from the printer) is good. But it's very slow. So, if you're in a hurry, don't start a photo print. You'll end up doing what I'm going to do: Get back in the car, computer and printer open and working, and drive away.