HP Officejet 100 mobile printer

The HP’s (NYSE: HPQ) Officejet 100 Mobile Printer is a colour inkjet printer specifically designed to be a portable model for mobile users such as real-estate agents or insurance agents. It delivers, but for a high initial price ($279 as of April 6, 2011), as well as high ongoing ink costs.

Offering features that are tuned for simplicity and portability, the Officejet 100 is small and solidly constructed. It weighs 5.5 pounds including the battery, so carrying it is about the same as toting around an all-purpose laptop. If you know that you’ll always have AC power available, you can shed a little over half a pound by leaving the battery behind. USB and Bluetooth connectivity are standard. The top cover folds back to create a 50-sheet rear vertical feed, but the printer has no output tray. Controls are minimal, limited to power, cancel, Bluetooth on/off, and paper feed.

Speed is not the Officejet 100’s forte. Printing black text and simple monochrome graphics at default settings, the unit averaged a lackluster 3.7 pages per minute on the PC and 3.6 ppm on the Mac. Printing small colour photos on plain paper, it managed a competent rate of 2.7 ppm, but moving to nicer settings on photo paper slowed it considerably to 0.5 ppm. Our full-page photo printed on the Mac clearly pushed the OfficeJet 100 past its comfort zone, as it took a tortoise-like 5.5 minutes. An anecdotal switch to draft mode sped things up considerably: Text pages literally flew out the front.

The impressive print quality makes up for the wait. Text was nearly laserlike in its precision, and monochrome graphics looked smooth. Color graphics printed on plain paper appeared slightly washed out and had a distinct bent toward pink and orange, most noticeable in flesh tones. Moving to HP’s own photo paper resolved most of those issues.

Ink costs are higher than average (though not the worst we’ve encountered), and a bit confusing. The standard-size HP 98 black cartridge costs $24 and lasts for 440 pages, or a pricey 5.5 cents per page. The HP 95 tricolour (cyan, magenta, yellow) costs $29 and lasts for about 330 pages, or 8.8 cents per page. A four-colour page would cost 14.2 cents. You can reduce those costs to 4.8 cents per page (black), 7.1 cents per page (colour), and 11.9 cents per page (four colours) with the 500-page, $24 HP 94 black cartridge and 560-page, $40 HP 97 tricolour. And no, that’s not a typo: The company’s Web site lists the 98 and 94 cartridges for the same price. You may also replace the black cartridge with the HP 99 for six-colour photo printing; the 99 costs $29 and lasts for 130 4-by-6-inch photos (about 22 cents per photo).

The HP Officejet 100 Mobile Printer fits the needs of the mobile professional, providing competent printing capabilities in a luggable package. Although that comes at the sacrifice of speed, and at notable initial and ongoing costs, convenience is the priority with this machine.

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