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PDA printing, do we really need it?

Brother's micro printer is decorative, we're not sure it's that practical

If you've ever had an overwhelming need to print from your PDA (personal digital assistant) then you will love Brother's m-PRNT thermal printer, but the rest of us may find ourselves wondering "why?"

The m-PRNT is certainly a looker, with it silver and black case and tiny dimensions. It weighs just 300g and measures 97x17.5x158mm so it will slip easily into your briefcase, although we question Brother's assertions that you could fit it into your pocket.

While the device communicates wirelessly via infrared, it can also be hooked up to a notebook or PC via its USB port. Printouts are A7 in size and print quality is much the same as cash register receipt as it uses the same thermal technology to create the 300dpi output.

There's a choice of six different media types, including labels and sticky notes, and each pack costs around £2.50. This could make printing pretty expensive as you don't get much media to a pack. Printing out is also very slow, and the demo we saw certainly took longer than the 15 seconds per page claimed by Brother.

Brother admits that it sees the device's main market among corporate customers, who it envisages using it to print out quotes or contracts on the spot. It is already in talks about the printer with several companies which can see the savings to be made by kitting out their staff with PDAs rather than notebooks.

At the moment the consumer appeal is limited to so-called early adopters, but Mike Dinsdale, Brother UK's head of marketing, says a colour device could be available in a couple of years for printing out digital images and so on.

It is interesting to note that the printer has only been launched in Japan and the UK so far. Dinsdale says this is because US retailers will only take the device if it proves a success in the Japanese and European markets. We wonder whether the Americans will ever get to see the m-PRNT.

The m-PRNT is available now priced £249 inc VAT.


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