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The Portable Printer

The printer we'll choose is far and away the best bargain tip you're going to get out of this series. Pocket printers currently run $300–400 or more. However, there's an old gem called the SiPix A6 Pocket Palm Printer (see Figure 2). Although designed for the Palm, it also connects to Pocket PC via an infrared link. Unfortunately, the A6 was not updated for Pocket PC 2003 and above.

Or so people think.

In reality, there's a recent hack to get the A6 to work with our iPAQ 5555. But since most people think the A6 is obsolete, we can buy a full A6 printing kit complete with software, paper, printer, charger, batteries, bonus serial printer cable, and velvet carrying case, all new and in the original shrink wrap, for just $16.

Figure 2Figure 2 With a little software driver hacking, this pocket printer from SiPix can save you hundreds of dollars.

This printer weighs less than a pound and prints at two pages per minute with an adequate 400 dpi resolution. It's as big as a generous checkbook (5.8 by 4.25 inches), and is less than one inch think. The trick is the thermal paper, so you never have to buy replacement ink. But unlike the old thermal fax paper you remember, this is quite high quality.

The hack comes courtesy of user "phmurphy" on the http://www.expansys.es support forum. Perform these steps exactly as follows:

  1. Backup and then "hard" reset your iPAQ to wipe the memory and erase all of your programs. On the 5555, a hard reset is performed by simultaneously pressing the bottom, outer two buttons while holding the stylus in for a 10-second soft reset press.

  2. Install the 30-day trialware of PrintPocketCE.

  3. Perform a soft reset.

  4. Install the A6 drivers.

  5. Soft reset again

  6. Turn the printer on and off again. Then turn it on and try to print.

Even if you choose to uninstall the optional trialware, the printer still works with the default A6 printer driver. The problem was that installing the A6 driver before the PrintPocketCE driver broke the functionality. But if you follow the exact steps above, it will work beautifully. Just beam your file to the printer and watch the pages roll out.

SiPix A6 Pocket Palm Printer (PR-00033): $16 new kit

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