March 23, 2006
 

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Posted: 06.09.05

A Networking Solution: Maybe Not

Iíll admit, my lifestyle doesnít exactly beg for a compact mobile printer. I donít specialize in on-the-go business transactions requiring receipts, I donít usually need to quickly produce several adhesive conference nametags and I cannot conceive of a nerdier way to record and give my information to a prospective date. After two days with the Brother MW140BT, however, I tried reconsidering just how nerdy that would be.
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By Adam Brickman




The newest mobile printer from Brother Technology comes Bluetooth-enabled, with a rechargeable lithium ion battery and prints almost silently up to four pages per minute. The unit itself is smaller than a DVD case, just over half-an-inch thick and weighs only 10 ounces when loaded with 50 sheets of receipt-size (about 4 inches by 3 inches) paper. The printer also loads easily; Brother sells packets of paper that slide right into the device. Bluetooth allows the MW140 to interact with PDAs and smartphones and the printer also comes with a USB cable for notebooks and devices without Bluetooth.

The size of the printer is appealing; it fit (although unattractively) into my shirt pocket, and with its Lindsay Lohan-esque weight drop when compared to some other mobile printers, it can slip into almost any notebook case unnoticed. The included software converts letter-sized documents into A7 formatting, and the “Spotsnap Snapper” program facilitates middle resolution printing of images. The software itself is easy to use, at least on a notebook (my smartphone, sadly, is in the shop) and provides several different layout and imaging print options.

Brother offers three types of paper for the MW140—a normal paper sheet, a carbon copy version for dual receipt printing and adhesive label paper available in full, half or quarter sheet sizes. There is no liquid ink or toner, so you don’t have to worry about running out or leakage, and the printer saves power by turning off after five minutes of inactivity.

My main reservation stemmed from the printer’s durability in field worker situations. A more rugged carrying case is sold separately and recommended for more trying work environments. The unit seems sturdy, but its weight and paper loading spring mechanism don’t seem to bode well for drop survival. The MW140 BT retails for $400, with the MW100 version (with infrared instead of Bluetooth) goes for $300.

The MW140BT does have the advantage of flat out looking cool. Even though I couldn’t think of any practical use in my own life, I still wanted one. I did print a to-do list (still sitting, uncompleted, on my desk), as well as a few humorous notes to myself. And while I ultimately decided that using a mobile printer to hand out my digits wasn’t exactly cool, I still thought about it. Briefly.
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