New trends in mobile printing: Wireless printing using an iconic hand held

The Pentax PocketJet 3 BT/3 Plus BT printer with Bluetooth option and the Content Beamer solution from ThinPrint for the BlackBerry hand held computer take mobile business printing a decisive step forward.

With the Bluetooth printing solution for the BlackBerry, the two manufacturers, Pentax Technologies and ThinPrint GmbH, are making the vision of the ubiquitously available office a reality. Since November 2005, the Pentax PocketJet 3 BT and 3 Plus BT mobile printers have been equipped with optional Bluetooth connectivity, which makes them a completely wireless printing solution. These new Pentax printers can easily communicate with Bluetooth-enabled computers, mobile phones, PDA and BlackBerry devices, and other hosts.

Content Beamer for BlackBerry from ThinPrint enables BlackBerry users to print
e-mails and e-mail attachments, calendar entries, contacts, tasks and notes via the Bluetooth interface. In the basic configuration, Content Beamer Local, the command for Bluetooth printing is automatically integrated in the BlackBerry menu after downloading the software. The great thing about this solution is that the user can print out e-mail attachments in the original format without any loss of quality.

How it works

Content Beamer software comes in three versions of increasing size: Content Beamer Local for single users, Content Beamer Online Services for small businesses, and Content Beamer Corporate for large enterprises with their own server architecture. The Content Beamer print function is easily integrated in the BlackBerry environment. An additional "print" option appears in the BlackBerry menu, and is used to start print output. Since there is no need to download the e-mail attachment when printing with Content Beamer, and the generated print job has a far smaller data volume than the original file because of the high degree of compression, print output is faster than the download of the corresponding file.

In this context, the Content Beamer server receives the document to be printed, generates and compresses the print job, and sends the compressed printing data via the BlackBerry Enterprise Server to the BlackBerry in secure form. Both servers are operated behind a firewall for security reasons. Since all output is printed in the original format, it is also possible to print documents that cannot be displayed at all, or only unsatisfactorily, on the BlackBerry display. As a result, even maps, building plans or technical drawings can be accessed using the BlackBerry.

Small-format mobile printing

The Pentax PocketJet 3 with battery weighs a mere 507 grams (404 grams without) and measures 255 x 55 x 30 mm. The printer can be operated either on a storage battery or on a power supply unit. While the previous PocketJet models were still dependent on a USB cable for connection to a notebook PC, the Bluetooth link now handles printing data transfer. While wireless transmission already worked in the past with an infrared interface, the printer and the notebook PC had to be in line-of-sight with each other. In contrast, the Bluetooth option enables wireless transfer regardless of the relative positions of printer and notebook PC.

Thanks to direct thermal printing technology, there is no ink to leak. The maximum print resolution is 300 dpi, resulting in a printed image comparable to that of a laser printer. This print quality is more than adequate for business prints. The printer can output up to three pages per minute, and will print up to 100 pages non-stop when running on the battery. One highly practical feature is that the battery can even be changed during the print job. The medium recommended by Pentax is its specially developed Pentax Quality Paper, since the treated surface offers excellent print output with crisp, clear characters. Thanks to its legibility of at least five to seven years, it is especially suitable for documents intended for archiving. This is an important aspect in the case of the following business applications: Audi, Miele, Pompiers de Paris, RAC, Vitens, Rottapharm, Agire, Southern Water.

The first large-scale users of the Content Beamer solution in conjunction with a Bluetooth-enabled printer include the truck drivers of a US trading company. They now print their freight documents in their trucks while on the move. The objective of management was to recover lost working time, because the drivers did not instantly have delivery notes and freight documents on hand when needed. The delivery notes arrive by email on hand helds while the drivers are still on the road. When the drivers want to print, the print job is prepared in the background, and the wireless printer then starts to print.

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