Thursday, April 19, 2012

Invert! Invert! Invert!

So far on the subject of mobile printing for the iPad, I've written about:

Printing from the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch on the road (no router and no sockets required)

Getting the iPad to talk to the H470

Mobile Wireless Printers for the iPad / iPhone

That last post shows just how very limited the choices are when it comes to wanting to print in a truly mobile way ... but what if we widen the net a little and looked at how the iPad could print provided we could get power to a printer?

The problem with battery-operated printers is that pretty much all of them (apart from the H470 and H460 I've previously written about) only offer bluetooth as a wireless option, which is simply a no-go for printing with iPads and iPhones. If we look at regular printers, we open up a ton of options as long as we can solve the power problem.

Enter the power inverter ...

When I was originally looking at this, I saw a lot of sales people wanting to print invoices for customers or truck drivers wanting to print delivery advices or pickup slips from their rig ... so, right there we have a source of power on the road - the humble 12v DC cigarette lighter.

Your car throws out 12v of Direct Current but everyday electrical items want 120v of Alternating Current (or 220v-240v if you're in Europe/Asia) - a power inverter converts the DC so that you can simply plug in your printer (or anything else for that matter) as if you were at home.

This opens up the possibility for AirPrint printers which operate in AdHoc mode ... in these cases there's no need for a third-party printing app - you should be able to just print straight from your iPad / iPhone from any app that supports AirPrint.
Note: Make sure the AirPrint printer you buy can definitely operate in AdHoc mode.

Going the non-AirPrint route though opens up a bunch of more compact printers (or you may already have a printer capable of operating in AdHoc mode). It might be a lot easier to track down something like this with an inverter than the ideal mobile printing solution of a H470 / H460 ...
Note: Make sure the printer you buy can definitely operate in AdHoc mode.

And don't forget the power inverter itself for your car.

Once you've got these, you can set up an AdHoc connection between your printer and your iPad (or just print the standard AirPrint way if compatible) and away you go ...


  • Use it only when your engine is running - it's a common misconception that a car's alternator refills the battery all the way. I've heard that modern cars are designed to replace what's taken at any given moment ... so, if you're taking power without the engine running, you're slowly draining your battery and what you use won't get replaced
  • Check the power rating of the printer you buy - most modern printers (even all-in-ones) run under 100W - but check the specs so that the inverter you buy can handle the printer's power requirements (a laser printer sucks power to heat up the rollers btw, so steer clear)
  • Make sure the printer can operate in AdHoc wireless mode - otherwise you won't be able to get the iPad / iPhone to talk to it without a router (which you could also run off an inverter, but what's the point when the iPad and printer can talk to each other direct?)

If it turns out my blogging efforts have saved you time or money, any sort of donation would be greatly appreciated to help keep things ticking over. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mobile Wireless Printers for the iPad / iPhone

After posting about how to set up the iPad to do proper mobile printing (no wires, no routers, just an iPad and a battery-operated HP H470 printer), I got some requests to recommend some other printers given that the H470 is no longer sold (although you should be able to pick one up on eBay as I did).

So I've taken a look around and here's a list of printers that fit the mobile category and that operate in AdHoc mode - you can use the instructions I posted on how to set up the iPad to talk to the H470 as a base for your new printer ... the steps will be different for the printer, but the iPad steps are still relevant and the general principles are all the same.

So, onto battery-operated mobile printers that can operate in an AdHoc wireless network and with which you can print on the road:

And ... that's pretty much it I'm afraid, which I'm frankly amazed at. The two HP Deskjets (the 460 I've listed above and the H470 I own and have written about in previous posts) look to be the only truly mobile printers that appear viable for mobile printing on an iPad.

If you find something else that fits the bill (battery-operated with WiFi connectivity in AdHoc mode) then please let me know - and if I see any more, I'll be sure to update this post.

In the meantime - either check the links above for the 460 and dongle, find yourself a H470 (and WiFi dongle) or search Amazon for battery wifi printers and see what's available.

Good luck!


If it turns out my blogging efforts have saved you time or money, any sort of donation would be greatly appreciated to help keep things ticking over. Thanks!