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Virtual Real Estate Office, Part 1: Portable Printing

Like many real estate agents today, I don’t work in a conventional office.  I have a home office, but much of my work seems to be done out of my car between showings, listing appointments, and inspections.  Because of this, I need to carry my office with me everywhere I go.  With a laptop and [...]

Like many real estate agents today, I don’t work in a conventional office.  I have a home office, but much of my work seems to be done out of my car between showings, listing appointments, and inspections.  Because of this, I need to carry my office with me everywhere I go.  With a laptop and an iPhone that’s pretty easy.  In a series of posts, I am going to outline some of the options for working in a virtual office environment.  One of the first issues I’ve run into is printing while on the road.

Five years ago, when a buyer liked a home enough to write an offer, we would sit down in that home and hand-write the offer.  I would take it back to my office and fax it to the listing agent (or even present it directly to the seller).  But today, we write our offers online and email them over to the listing agent.  Although there are some electronic signature options, many people still want to see live signatures on paper.  Enter the portable printer.

In my research, I’ve found three good options for a portable printer: HP H470, Canon PIXMA iP100 and Pentax PocketJet 3.  The HP and Canon printers are very similar and seemed to be the best options if you need to print color or photos.  They are also much less expensive than the Pentax (around $200 vs. $360+).  The tradeoff is that they are both inkjet printers whereas the Pentax uses thermal paper and no ink.  Because of this, they are not as small and lightweight as the Pentax.  The HP and Canon are around 4.5lbs and 6 to 7 inches wide.  The Pentax weighs less than a pound and is only 1.5 inches wide.

HP H470 Portable PrinterCanon PIXMA P100 Portable PrinterPentax PocketJet 3 Portable Printer
So which one to go with?  At first, I planned to go with the Pentax as I only really need to print contracts (black and white) and I really liked the idea of the portability (it would fit in my laptop bag), but then I started thinking about the versatility of having a color printer on the road.  Although I don’t user flier boxes anymore, I may still need to print off a brochure for a new buyer and the thought of doing that on old school fax paper just didn’t seem right.  And realistically, I won’t need it enough to keep it in my laptop bag everywhere I go.  Keeping it in the car so that it is accessible is good enough.  This leaves the HP and Canon printers.

I stopped by a local office store to take a look at the two printers side by side.  They are about the same size and feel about the same weight.  They also seem to have about the same specs.  However, the Canon seemed a little smaller and based on a number of online reviews (both good and bad), the Canon seems to rate higher in overall satisfaction.  So, I’m going with the Canon.  I’ll let you know if it was the right decision.

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