Volume 19, Number 8
December 2002


Going Truly Mobile

Reviewed by Alan Pearlman

As a lawyer on the go in today's upbeat mobile world, I'm always on the lookout for the best and smallest equipment so I can be truly mobile yet truly productive. Until now most, if not all, printers and scanners touted as "mobile" have been fairly large, weighty units that failed to perform as well as their bigger siblings.
I recently found two items that are musts if your practice takes you on the road more than half the time. Pentax Technologies recently perfected two truly mobile pieces, a printer and a scanner. The fabulous Pentax PocketJet 200 Ultra-Portable printer is without a doubt one of the smallest, lightest, and most effective printers for all on-the-go needs, producing sharp, clear resolution, crisp graphics, and extremely high-quality documents.
This unit is an excellent addition to my out-of-office practice. Several times after reaching an agreement in court for a settlement conference in chambers, I've been able to print the corrected version of the agreement right then and there, instead of going back to the office, making changes, and sending the document back and forth for signatures. It makes clients-and their lawyers-much happier to get on with the agreement and their lives, rather than having to wait and reschedule a later meeting.

Most of us see the documents we create as extensions of our professional selves and take pride in how they look. The unit measures up amazingly well against laser-quality printers. It boasts a 203 x 200 dpi resolution (dots per inch, for the non-techies) and a print speed of up to three pages per minute. It supports Windows 3.1, 95, 98, NT, 2000, ME, CE, all Palm units, Pocket PC units, and even my Blackberry OS! This unit really packs a big punch, even though it weighs in at only one to two pounds with the battery installed. A fully charged battery prints up to 40 pages.

I was very skeptical about the unit's potential print quality, but after my first page, I knew this was the printer for me. It uses something called "direct thermal printing technology," which means it never needs new ribbons, print heads, cartridges, or the like. No matter how many pages I print, I never worry about running out of ink. The secret is in the paper-specially designed thermal stock from Pentax. (I confess that I carry about 50 to 100 sheets with me on the road but haven't yet run out.) I love the look, feel, and quality of my documents.

The unit can run on an AC adapter as well as battery power, with a choice of serial, parallel, infrared, or USB interface cable. I especially enjoy using my infrared attachment to print directly-without a cable-from my Pocket PC. Infrared printing has also come in handy from my laptop to my PocketJet 200.

The Pentax DSmobile USB scanner is a compact, lightweight, high-quality machine that weighs a mere 12 ounces and measures just 11 inches long. It's the ideal scanner for any confined space, in the office or on the road.
The scanner has a simplified sheet-fed design that allows you to scan everything from business cards to legal paper in one unit. Also, it requires no bulky power supply unit to lug around. All of its operational power is drawn directly from my laptop, and it consumes less power than most other units I've tested. I can scan while running my laptop on battery power. Pentax also has developed an optional advanced scanning module, the CIS, or Contact Image Scanner, which operates with fewer moving parts than the traditional CCD or Charge Coupled Device, significantly reducing the chance of a mechanical breakdown of the unit.

The DSmobile also supports Windows 98, Me, 2000, or XP, or for that matter any PC that has a USB port and accompanying software. For you tech-support junkies, Pentax offers free tech support for the life of the product.
The Pentax PocketJet 200 printer and the DSmobile USB scanner are products of Pentax Technologies (800/543-6144, www.pentaxtech.com). Both products are priced between $150 and $250, depending on place of purchase.

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