The world has become increasingly mobility oriented in recent years and thus technology has evolved to support always on, always connected and ever more portable devices. From smaller, thinner, lighter and more compact notebooks coupled with the emergence of ultrabooks to powerful smartphones and tablets, consumers and business users are constantly connected and able to be productive, writes Caron de Fortier, HP printers and supplies division manager at Drive Control Corporation (DCC).
To keep pace with this trend, printers too have undergone an evolution, with smaller form factors, support for mobile printing, portable print capability and even the inclusion of apps to enhance functionality.
Since the paperless office remains an elusive goal, printers still very much have a place in our everyday lives. However, with space very often at a premium and budgets always tight, consumers and even business users need compact printers that offer a wide range of functions, at an affordable price.
One of the essential functions of a printer today is the ability to support printing directly from mobile devices, as well as from the cloud. Printers have evolved to cater to this, with mobile print systems supporting a variety of different solutions. Wireless network printing enables users to print directly from devices connected to the same wireless network as the printer, while wireless direct printing lets users print directly to the device without requiring a Wi-Fi network.
‘On the go’ printing, essential for mobility, gives users the freedom to print from anywhere via the cloud, bringing printer functionality to the truly mobile generation.
As useful as mobile printing is, however, it still requires that users be near the actual printer in order to collect their printed documents. For many mobile workers, especially sales people who are often on the road and nowhere near their office, this can hinder productivity.
As a result, portable printers have become increasingly available, utilising battery power to provide a truly anytime, anywhere print experience. These lightweight, compact devices enable users to produce professional-quality documents on the go, using built-in Bluetooth wireless technology.
All-in-one portable devices are also available, allowing users to make quick copies, easily scan while on the go, and print from selected notebooks and mobile devices. With the ability to perform all of the functions of a desktop printer from anywhere, portable mobile printers are ideal for mobile professionals.
In addition to enhanced mobility, printers have also evolved to improve productivity both for home and business users. Specific to the printer and the needs of printer users, printing apps can improve workflows, enhanced printer and fleet management, easy printing of standardised documents and more.
For consumers, apps also give access to a range of printables including crosswords, cards and other templates that can be customised and printed with ease. Print apps open up a new world of possibilities for users right from the printer itself, without requiring the use of a computer.
Choosing the correct printer is always a case of assessing your needs and requirements. Some areas to examine include the necessity for portability and supporting a mobile workforce, as well as the number of pages that need to be printed. These are not the only factors, the speeds required, whether or not scan and copy is necessary, and whether the printer will be used for home or business applications also needs to be considered. Budget is also a concern that needs to be taken into account. Once these areas have been determined, users will be able to obtain a printer that meets their needs and will support productivity effectively for maximum return on investment.