Using the Brother PocketJet PJ-663 could hardly be simpler. Feeding a single sheet of the coated thermal paper into the slot in the top of the printer, which is marked with Letter, A4 and A5 width marks, produces a small automatic feed to grip it. Sending a document to it then starts it feeding.
The problem is that this automatic gripping of the paper makes it hard to set it up, so the sheet feeds through square. It’s all too easy for the feed roller to grab one corner before the other and skew the page and the print on it. It would help if there was any kind of physical paper guide.
Pages print quite quickly, with a single page from our five-page text document coming through in 15s. Our text and graphics page took a little longer, but still completed in 17s. A 15 x 10cm photo on an A4 page was back down to 15s. If you want to print multi-page documents, it’s simply a question of feeding further sheets into the feed slot.
Print quality is perfectly adequate for text, with the high-contrast thermal coating on the paper producing clean characters. There are some slight jaggies around curves and diagonals, because of the 300dpi resolution of the print head, but this is more noticeable when the printer tries to reproduce greyscales. Putting text over greys risks obscuring the text and photographs look very dotty. Best to stick to simple layouts and black text.
The sound output from the printer, at 57dBA peak, is lower than from most of the printers we review, though overall the sound of the thermal printhead is at a higher level than a typical ink-jet. Inkjets lose out because of the high noise levels when feeding fresh sheets of paper.
The only running cost is the coated thermal paper the printer needs, which comes out at just under 12p per sheet. This means every A4 page, no matter what its content, costs 12p; a lot higher than from any inkjet or laser we can think of.
The Brother PocketJet PJ-663 is a perfectly adequate portable printer and convenient in some circumstances, as it doesn’t require separate ink cartridges or other inking system. You do have to use thermal paper, which is a bit inconvenient and more than a bit costly, but the main problem is the price of the printer itself. The cheapest price we could find it for is just over £500.
We see no reason for this astronomical price, just because the printer sits in a niche market. There are portable inkjet printers which offer colour, better paper handling, a Bluetooth connection for Apple and Android devices and a battery, available for over £350 less.