Mobile, durable, and easy to use, handheld thermal inkjet (TIJ) printers are versatile machines that can help small businesses meet encoding requirements—if they pick a quality model. Like countless other pieces of technology, handheld printers run the gamut from being well-built and reliable to cheaply constructed and prone to errors. As such, companies that are looking to outfit their facilities with these devices need to be wise when choosing a model. After all, a single faulty printer can cause any production line to come to a screeching halt. With these stakes in consideration, navigating the often esoteric world of industrial printers can quickly become a nerve-wracking experience.
If this sounds like your current situation, stop and take a deep breath—then, read on for some expert tips regarding what information to look for in handheld inkjet printer reviews. We'll also discuss what red flags to look out for that are commonly associated with less-than-reputable models.
Essential Features to Look for in Handheld Inkjet Printer Reviews
To help narrow down your field of handheld printer options, pay close attention to the details:
- Construction Material: By and large, quality handheld printers will primarily be constructed of metal. With this hardy construction, you can expect the machine to last around five to eight years. However, if the machine you’re looking at is made of plastic, it is likely not built to last.
- Maintenance Needs: Well-made handheld printers are often accompanied by “zero maintenance required” descriptions. In theory, the ink cartridge setups used by these machines eliminate the need for printhead services. If this is glossed over, or maintenance needs are written about in detail, you’re likely viewing a subpar device.
- Print Height: The industry standard printing height for a handheld printer is generally around 12.7 mm, which is large enough to create scannable, highly readable codes. Anything smaller than that is a rightful cause for concern.
- Colors of Ink Available: While handheld printers are not designed for multi-color printing and often default to black, if your company is seeking to create codes in an alternative color, make sure that these colors will be available in the model’s corresponding cartridges. Although some colors (e.g. white) are still impossible to use with these devices, other colors like yellow and blue will be compatible with certain models.
- Ease of Use: More of a subjective category than print height specs or available color cartridges, quality handheld inkjet printer reviews should nonetheless profile certain qualities of the user-interface. For example, be on the lookout for models that use large color displays, LED backlights, and remote keypads.
- Storage Capacity: Given how most production operations need to create hundreds of barcodes, best-by dates, packaging dates, lot codes, and tracking numbers to meet industry standards, using a machine that is able to adequately store these different codes can make your job much easier. Granted, the ideal number of saved codes will vary from business to business, a memory bank that can store around a thousand messages is bound to fit the needs of most companies.
- Quality of Print/Resolution: Depending on variables related to barcode symbology and character pitch, barcodes can be successfully read at rates between 75 dpi and 600 DPI. Of course, the higher the resolution, the easier it is to scan a code, so seeking out a machine that is capable of printing at 600 DPI will almost certainly fare you well.
It may require some upfront work to consider all of these factors in order to find the best handheld inkjet printer for your unique application, but this effort is well worth it and you always have the option of reaching out for expert guidance.
Major Red Flags to Look Out For When Evaluating Printers
Although we touched on a few red flags in the section above (most notably cheap plastic construction), there are still two major, but often overlooked, issues that you should be aware of during your handheld printer search.
Too Low of a Price Tag
"You get what you pay for," as the saying goes, and it's particularly applicable when talking about the handheld printer market. Reliable models that can print for years on end without issue will generally carry price tags ranging from around $1500-2000. If you shop around, you will inevitably find alternatives for around $600-1000—however, these models aren’t even worth the time it takes to research them.
To drive costs down for these models, cheap plastics are used in lieu of reliable metal. As a result, these machines will inevitably experience increasingly frequent malfunctions that can drastically reduce your production line’s uptime and, eventually, prematurely end your printer’s lifespan.
Lack of Tech Support
Reputable companies offering well-made products will make sure that you understand how to use their machines and create avenues to rectify any outstanding issues. Businesses that know their devices are prone to frequent breakdowns will skirt around these machines, opting to sell another cheap $600 printer rather than bother repairing the one they’ve already pawned off to the consumer.
If you’re looking to buy through a company, look for these elements on their website:
- An easily located phone number to reach a technical support agent
- Detailed videos on how to install the product and perform any troubleshooting tasks
- Available documents and PDFs containing product information
We can often be tempted by lower upfront costs, but I think we have all probably learned the hard lesson at one time or another that you get what you pay for, and skimping on cost often comes back to bite us. Additionally, having problems that decrease the up-time of your production line can end up costing you a lot more than a product that is ready to get the job done, day in and day out.
Expert Guidance for Navigating Handheld Inkjet Printer Reviews
While reading through handheld inkjet printer reviews can give you a better understanding of your market options, we know that this selection process can still be daunting. If you have lingering questions about which models will work best for your industry, our team can give you the answers you need and set you on the right path.
To speak with an inkjet printer expert, learn more about our selection of handheld inkjet printers, or to learn more about evaluating handheld inkjet printer reviews, contact us today by dialing (800) 280-3245.