Being able to copy documents while on the road for work is obviously one of the biggest issues encountered by travelling professionals, nationally and overseas. The easiest solution would indeed be a mobile unit able to print, scan and copy with no need for mains-supply electricity. Portable photocopiers or multi-function printers (MFPs) exist, but there are surprisingly few models on the market. Therefore, it may be interesting to find alternative systems.
How does it work and where can I find one?
For all intents and purposes, portable photocopiers work the same way as their static counterparts, but there are of course specific features inherent to such systems. Two well-known manufacturers share the best part of the mobile copier market, each with one model.
Basic functioning of a portable photocopier
First of all, one must understand that there’s more to portable photocopiers than just the ability to be moved from room to room. As these machines are battery-operated, autonomy is essential. While none of these models will fit inside a briefcase, portability and weight must also be taken into consideration, as well as resistance to shock and reliability. Finally, common features like colour printing and Wi-Fi connectivity are frequently necessary.
HP OfficeJet 150
HP’s model is the standard portable photocopier on the market, a world first. It’s a colour MFP which can print, copy and scan. The OfficeJet 150 is a rugged unit capable of handling tough conditions, it’s compact and lightweight. Its battery is rechargeable, but the machine can be plugged into the mains too. It has Bluetooth technology and prints 22 pages per minute in black and white, or 18 in colour. Prices start at £190 plus VAT.
Ricoh SG 3120B SFNw
Launched in 2014, the SG 3120B SFNw is battery or mains operated. It is portable enough to be taken from office to office, but may be a bit bulky for professional trips. However, it offers outstanding output, with 26 pages per minute in black and white, 14 in colour. Besides, it will copy 500 documents or print 1,000 pages between charges. Prices are around £267 plus VAT
Alternatives to portable photocopiers
If you want to copy on the go, there are other options than battery-operated portable photocopiers. There are in fact two, and both require the use of specific gadgets.
In any case, you will need a portable printer to be able to print the documents you intend to copy. These are very compact units which can fit in a briefcase and process documents one sheet at a time. Depending on their options, colour for example, they cost between £120 and £600. They generally connect wirelessly or via a USB cable.
Portable scanners are quite inexpensive, starting at around £20, up to a few hundred pounds. They’re hand-held units which save the scanned documents on an SD card. That way, you can modify scanned material on a laptop computer before printing. This is especially convenient for photos.
Using a smartphone
With a smartphone, it’s relatively simple to take a picture of the document you need to copy. This system removes the need for a scanner; however, it’s difficult to obtain good results, although they can be acceptable for many purposes.