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Brother PocketJet 7 Review

The Brother PocketJet 7 PJ723 isn’t just mobile, it’s the most portable printer on the market.

Our Verdict

The Brother PocketJet 7 PJ723 is the most portable printing solution you can buy, but it means buying special paper and giving up basic features like color printing.

For

  • This printer has unrivaled portability.

Against

  • Its thermal print technology means it can only print low-resolution, monochrome documents.
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Brother PocketJet 7 PJ-723 image: The PocketJet 7 is the most portable printer we reviewed.

Brother PocketJet 7 PJ-723 image: The PocketJet 7 is the most portable printer we reviewed.
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Brother PocketJet 7 PJ-723 image: This portable printer isn’t much larger than a regular stapler.

Brother PocketJet 7 PJ-723 image: This portable printer isn’t much larger than a regular stapler.
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Brother PocketJet 7 PJ-723 image: The printer uses thermal printing technology to maintain its super-compact size.

Brother PocketJet 7 PJ-723 image: The printer uses thermal printing technology to maintain its super-compact size.
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Brother PocketJet 7 PJ-723 image: The PocketJet 7 is the only printer we reviewed that is as mobile as a tablet or smartphone.

Brother PocketJet 7 PJ-723 image: The PocketJet 7 is the only printer we reviewed that is as mobile as a tablet or smartphone.
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Brother PocketJet 7 PJ-723 image: The portable printer is small enough to carry in your laptop bag or even a large coat pocket.

Brother PocketJet 7 PJ-723 image: The portable printer is small enough to carry in your laptop bag or even a large coat pocket.
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Brother PocketJet 7 PJ-723 image: A small panel on the front of the printer can be opened to clear paper jams.

Brother PocketJet 7 PJ-723 image: A small panel on the front of the printer can be opened to clear paper jams.
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Brother PocketJet 7 PJ-723 image: The thermal printer uses heat instead of ink and prints in monochrome but not color.

Brother PocketJet 7 PJ-723 image: The thermal printer uses heat instead of ink and prints in monochrome but not color.
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Brother PocketJet 7 PJ-723 image: The printer uses special thermal paper, which costs 7 cents per page or more.

Brother PocketJet 7 PJ-723 image: The printer uses special thermal paper, which costs 7 cents per page or more.
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Brother PocketJet 7 PJ-723 image: A variety of specific paper types are available, each suited to uses like archiving, accepting pen ink or surviving moisture.

Brother PocketJet 7 PJ-723 image: A variety of specific paper types are available, each suited to uses like archiving, accepting pen ink or surviving moisture.
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Brother PocketJet 7 PJ-723 image: The printer can be bought alone or in bundled kits that include the necessary cables, battery and paper for use in the office or in a vehicle.

Brother PocketJet 7 PJ-723 image: The printer can be bought alone or in bundled kits that include the necessary cables, battery and paper for use in the office or in a vehicle.
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Brother PocketJet 7 PJ-723 image: This small printer has indicator lights and simple controls for power and feeding paper through.

Brother PocketJet 7 PJ-723 image: This small printer has indicator lights and simple controls for power and feeding paper through.
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Brother PocketJet 7 PJ-723 image: On the end of the unit is a power connector and a miniUSB port for connecting to your laptop.

Brother PocketJet 7 PJ-723 image: On the end of the unit is a power connector and a miniUSB port for connecting to your laptop.

The Brother PocketJet 7 PJ723 isn’t just mobile, it’s the most portable printer on the market. But the best mobile printer may not necessarily be the one that’s the easiest to carry around. Even though you can just slip the Brother PocketJet into your pocket, you may want to think about what you give up for that portability.

Our review is based on the PocketJet 7 PJ723-BK, the basic kit package that includes the necessary power cords and a sample packet of specialized thermal paper. You can also buy the printer on its own (without a power cord) or as part of a vehicle kit that includes a car charger. There are several accessories available, including an optional battery. Be sure to select a package that includes all of the equipment you need, or you may have to make multiple purchases just to get started.

The PocketJet 7 is, hands down, the most portable of any mobile printer in our review. It weighs a scant 1.34 pounds and measures just 10.04 x 2.17 x 1.53 inches. The battery is optional, but when equipped it should provide enough power to print 600 pages on each charge. The downside to this lightweight is the lack of other features, like scanning or copying capability. If you're looking for a portable all-in-one, you might try the HP OfficeJet 250.

It’s one thing to be able to print on the go or on battery power, but it’s something else entirely to be able to slide that printer into the pocket of a coat or laptop bag. It’s the only printer we’ve seen that has the same sort of mobility you get from a smartphone, and if that is important to you, it may more than outweigh the compromises that come with the printer.

The PJ723’s unbeatable portability is due to the use of thermal printing, the same ink-free technology used to print some receipts. Thermal printing eliminates the need for ink cartridges or movable print heads. It’s similar in many respects to laser printing, but instead of using ink or toner, it uses special paper that responds to heat.

The print quality is quite good, as far as thermal printing goes. The resolution is very low (300 x 203 dpi), but the text clarity was the sharpest of any compact printer we reviewed – with no actual ink to bleed into the paper, text has sharp, crisp edges. However, it’s only monochrome, so printing in color is out of the question. Graphical elements that include color are rendered with a halftone pattern of dots, and that conversion, though good, isn’t always consistent. As a result, none of our color document samples printed properly, and there were definite limits to the printing quality. Black-and-white documents printed at five pages per minute, but you may notice that it produces a distinct odor when you print more than a few pages at a time.

The other part of this equation is the thermal paper. While the PJ723 has no ink to refill, you need to buy all of your thermal paper in advance of printing, and it’s not the sort of thing you can pick up at the corner store. Standard paper can be purchased in precut sheets or on perforated rolls, and there are several types of paper you can buy. Premium Paper is designed to hold up over time, allowing you to archive documents without worrying that they’ll fade or turn dark over time. Fast Dry paper is treated so its slick surface accepts ink from regular ballpoint pens, while Synthetic paper is water-resistant.

These papers are all available in a variety of formats, with rolls, fanfold and individually cut sheets all available to choose from. Sticking to standard paper, regular cut sheets can be bought in 100-sheet packages, which works out to a print cost of 14 cents per page. Standard paper can also be purchased in roll form, with six 100-sheet rolls per pack, bringing the cost down to a more reasonable 7 cents per page.

If you think specially ordering your paper well in advance and having to select it based on whether or not you need to write on the page or save it for long periods of time sounds like a hassle, you’re probably right. The PocketJet 7 line is best suited to workers in the field who have very consistent printing needs like printing invoices for customers.

The printer handles one page at a time, and you feed it from the back and out through the front. If you’re printing from a roll or a stack of fanfold paper, you can print multiple sheets without much trouble, but individually cut sheets need to be fed in one at a time.

The printer works with Windows, Mac and Linux systems but only connects via USB, so you can’t print wirelessly. It also isn’t designed to print from a mobile device, so you can’t print from a smartphone or tablet. This is a portable printer for laptop users only.

Brother covers the PocketJet 7 PJ723 with a one-year warranty. Support is provided via phone, email and live chat on the Brother website. You can also find an online user manual, troubleshooting guide and FAQs for the printer.

The Brother PocketJet 7 PJ723 is an impressive specimen among the best portable printers, but even with its super mobile design, it’s not recommended for most shoppers. If you need to print monochrome documents on the go, the PocketJet 7 is the most portable option, but it’s far less capable than a portable inkjet and less versatile in what it can print. It also has much more demanding supply and upkeep needs.

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