If you need to print reports on the move, you'll want a printer that's light, compact and easy to use. It's always a bonus to have excellent print quality and low price, but as yet we haven't seen a device that manages to combine all these attributes.
Canon's latest portable unit, the BJC-85, is an updated version of the BJC-80. It features a maximum resolution of 720 x 360dpi, a 30-page sheet feeder and a four-colour cartridge. Fortunately this includes black so you won't have so swap between colour and mono.
With three interfaces built in as standard, the BJC-85 is a versatile machine. Take your pick from the new USB port, parallel and Fast IrDA (updated from standard IrDA on the BJC-80). There are drivers for Windows, Mac OS and even Win CE 2.1, which means wireless printing from your personal digital assistant.
A power adapter is included as standard, and is smaller and lighter than the previous model. A small scanning cartridge is available which slots into the single holder, turning your printer into a multi-function device. The cartridge costs £70 and has a scanning resolution of up to 360 x 360dpi.
We really appreciated the sheet feeder which lets you load more than one sheet at a time. In tests we clocked the BJC-85 at 2.8ppm using the BC-10 black cartridge when printing 10 pages of 5% coverage. This is not slow, but it isn't as quick as Canon claims - 3.9ppm in standard mode.
In terms of quality, we awarded the BJC-85 62% on 80gsm plain paper. Text quality was fine, but images showed evidence of banding and were quite grainy in light areas. Canon printers are renowned for putting a lot of ink on the page, and this means reduced yields from the cartridges and a lot of bleeding in colour images. On high-resolution paper, it's a whole different story. The same images looked near-perfect. There was no banding or bleeding.
Unfortunately, to achieve good quality printing you need to use best mode on high-resolution paper and this means several minutes for each sheet. Proper Canon paper also costs £6 for 50 sheets, which adds to the cost of printing.
One of our main gripes is that, unlike other portable printers, you can't draw power from your laptop via a cable. You have to buy a battery separately if you want to print from a mains power supply. The battery costs £82, which puts the cost up to a phenomenal £340, and also adds weight to the unit.