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DATECS Ltd

PalmInfoCenter.com Bottom Line:

The Price:
  • $195
The Pros:
  • More than just a printer
  • Excellent software
  • Print quality is very nice

The Cons:
  • None

PalmInfoCenter.com Ratings*:
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*Maximum Rating is FIVE (5) InfoPalms



Datecs PP-50 Palm Printer Review
By Robert Zach
9/6/2001


"The DATECS PP-50 for Palm III is a unique piece of portable equipment specially designed to cradle the world's most popular palm-sized computer - the Palm III series, Palm V and Visor [and HandEra 330 too]." That's what the web site says, but in this review we'll explore what it doesn't say; This Printer Rules!

The PP-50 is the most compact printer available for PalmOS devices.  It is a thermal type printer which utilizes thermal roll paper.  It is capable of printing text as well as graphics in amazing detail -- it prints at 8 dot/mm or 203 dpi.  Power is supplied by a 7.2V rechargeable power pack. 

The device is basically a "sled" type cradle.  The Palm device slides into the printer as shown to the left. 

The printer itself has only three interfaces - a combo ON/OFF paper feed button, a serial port connector (more on that later), and an AC adapter inlet.  There are also two LEDs - an ON/OFF indicator and a battery charge indicator (the ON/OFF LED will also blink to indicate paper out and slow blink to indicate printing mechanism overheat - holding this button for over 2 seconds prints a detailed test page).  All of these are located at the front panel - right below the buttons on the Palm.

The tech specs note that, when fully charged, the PP-50 can print out over 5000 inches of alpha numerics!

Included in the box are the palm-sized printer, the AC batter recharger, a User's Manual, and four software applications.  A serial HotSync cable (for use in the PP-50's serial port) is optional.

The five included applications are:

Print Manager
This application is used to print data from the standard Palm applications (i.e. DateBook, Address, Memo and ToDo).  It is also the central application for controlling printer options and determining printer/Palm battery status.


From this one screen the icons can be selected for the PalmOS apps and printouts commenced of specific data (i.e. the Memo pad in the middle screenshot).  Items can be printed from the clipboard as well as "other" types of printing - including Mail from the PalmOS Mail application and a wide variety of bar codes (EAN13, EAN8, UPC-A, UPC-E, Code39, Code93, 2 of 5 interleaved Codabar, and Code128). Settings such as enable/disable the ScreenPad stroke, altering the printed font size, and enabling Auto LF between prints (feeds an additional 3 lines of paper for seeing and tearing off the whole print) can also be adjusted here.  Quite a versatile application. 

But, it doesn't stop here...printing from the built-in PalmOS applications also brings on a bevy of options for WHAT to print from each app as well.  For example, printing from DateBook allows "This Week", "This Month" and "Due" (everything until the end of the year) selections;  "To" and "From" date ranges are also possible; even "Today's" forthcoming events.  If that wasn't versatile enough you can even "Print Repeated Event" to print appointments of similar nature which are met at regular intervals or fixed dates. And, oh yes, you can print a single event too ;-)

Screen Print
This application allows the printing out of the exact "one-to-one" screen images generated by any PalmOS application (I did have issues printing some hi-res applications - but the same technical issues exist with applications such as ScreenShotHack).  Enabling this checkbox in the Print Manager essentially creates a hack.  Now, by tapping in the lower right hand corner of the Find silkscreen button, any Palm screen can be printed.  Very Nice! 


Options here include printing headers and footers (in various font styles and sizes), print intensity (up to 150%), and clipping.  Clipping is pretty neat, it allows you to select an area of the screen to print - this can be useful for printing a longer screen by scrolling it.

Screen Pad
This is a very simple freehand drawing application. It is intended for on-the-spot printouts of sketches, rough illustrations, etc.  Even though it is a "simple" app it does hove some sophisticated features such as geometric shape drawings, pen thickness, and object duplication.


Font Manager
This application is an important part of the PP-50 solutions.  It allows the downloading of alternative fonts and logo graphics to the printer.  The printer has two internal fonts 9x16 and 12x24 as well as two loadable fonts in the same size.  From these fonts you can print up to 32 symbols/line with the large font and 42 symbols/line with the smaller one.  Print can also be bold, underline, rotated 180 degrees and rotated 90 degrees.

Two fonts are permanently loaded into the PP-50 memory: WESTERN and National; National allows the selected (from a font list) national alphabet to be downloaded and edited. Entirely new characters and symbols can be created on the Palm directly with the "Edit" screen or on a PC.

DATECS also includes a Windows application (no Mac version as far as I know) to convert logos into .PDB format for upload to the Palm.  A logo can be downloaded to the printer with the Font Manager and used as special formatting for all printouts.  This would be nice for logos on printed receipts - using the PP-50 and the Palm as a great portable POS device.

Palm Print Emulator
The final application is a small bit of software wizardry.  This application "emulates" the popular PalmPrint application.  That is, any application that has native printing using the PalmPrint software can print directly to the PP-50.  This is accomplished by seamlessly translating PalmPrint commands to make them compatible with the PP-50.  The software comes pre-configured with individual parameters for seven applications (MultiMailPROIII for example).  This application also allows for the setting of a wide array of options per application "profile".


Conclusion
I really liked this device.  It's small, light (420gr with paper and battery), and prints very sharp.  The software is well written and works as described - no bugs.  About the only thing that I had issue with was the AC charger was a European design not usable in the US without an adapter.  Negating this tiny issue is the exceptional battery life and longevity.  It's been two months and the battery hasn't needed charging yet.

I can also see some vendor creating a Palm Credit Card swipe device that can be connected to and operated via the serial port on the PP-50.  Add a Palm VII or a newly announced "always-on" wireless device (such as the Palm i705), and you've got one accomplished POS system.

Please note, you WILL need to purchase the right version of PP-50 for your Palm.  I tried a Palm V series with a Palm III serial adapter, it didn't work; the shape of the devices themselves is different enough that it won't slide into the PP-50's cradle.

If you need a Palm printing solution this is a very fine one.  Here's the technical matrix:

Technical Data
Printing method: Line thermal dot printing
Print speed: 50 mm per second
Dot density: 8 dot/mm, 203 dpi - horizontal and vertical
Inbuilt fonts: A - 12x24; B - 9x16
Loadable fonts: C - 12x24; D - 9x16
Loadable logo: 384x248 pixels
Printing columns: Font A,C - 32 columns; Font B, D - 42 columns
Power supply:Rechargeable battery pack
Environment:
Operation 0oC - 45oC / 10 - 90%RH
Storage - 25oC - 70oC / 10 - 90%RH

Reliability: 50 Million pulses / 50 km
Dimensions: 195 mm x 50 mm x 87 mm
Weight: 420 gr., including battery and paper
Thermal paper: Roll 57 mm wide x 40 mm

Article Comments

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not even going to read the review

drw @ 9/7/2001 5:34:36 PM #
Form factor is too small. I could make use of the Canon BJC-55, but at $349 forget it.

David in Pflugerville, TX
RE: not even going to read the review
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/8/2001 4:15:56 AM #
Why Dont you get a BJC-80 Refurb for $160 instead then?
http://makeashorterlink.com/?R2274109

RE: not even going to read the review
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/8/2001 10:55:40 AM #
If you were not going to read the review why bother posting? Just because the product does not meet your needs is no reason to disrespect the reviewer and his efforts.

JWG

Wow

Coyote67 @ 9/7/2001 5:53:00 PM #
I have to say this is a very interesting product. I have been considering opening a computer repair/upgrade shop and would definatly get this to print out anything that I'd need to print (receipts and what nots). Very impressive. Great review.


OH my god...becky, look at her....Prism.

It's about time!

ahecht @ 9/8/2001 6:20:37 AM #
I've been waiting for a device like this ever since I got my first palm!

Compatible to Palm IIIc

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/8/2001 5:59:15 PM #
Is the Datecs PP-50 Palm Printer compatible with the Palm IIIc?

ttamsing@yahoo.com


RE: Compatible to Palm IIIc
ahecht @ 9/8/2001 9:55:52 PM #
probably not. the palm IIIc is taller than the III.

RE: Compatible to Palm IIIc
Rob @ 9/9/2001 10:15:07 PM #
ttamsing-

I just tested the PP-50 with my Palm IIIc...it works just fine. I do not know why DATECS does not list it as compatible. Maybe it's not a printer issue, maybe it is the serial port use or something like that.

With my IIIc the PP-50 works just fine. One caveat, the applications are not color enabled.

-Robert Zach

Palm Printer--

EJSHUMAK @ 9/11/2001 2:51:54 AM #
This really looks great -- I would like to see it just a bit less expensive however--

Better than Sipix

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/12/2001 2:00:11 AM #
Is this really that much better than the printer that Sipix makes? Not that I have either, just wondering.

RE: Better than Sipix
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/13/2001 6:01:11 AM #
Depends what you mean by better. The Sipix is primarily a flat sheet printer: the Datecs is roll paper. Let's say you've got an app where you print out reciepts in the cab of a truck, keeping flat sheets around and individually feeding them is a no-no. The Datecs printout is pretty narrow -like a till roll, but clear and quick.

Steve Brown


RE: Better than Sipix
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/19/2001 7:05:25 AM #
sipix also takes a6 rolls. This is half the width of fax paper. Rolls are about 2.5 meters long, which is not brilliant, but the printer is very small.

I think the advantage of the sipix of this unit is that it's not actually attached to the palm unit, in some circumstances this would be prefered, for example if you have a GPS in the compact flash slot as I do, that is the reason we have chosen the SiPix over any other model.

Good looking printer though and we will definately consider this for other projects.

Monarch

I.M. Anonymous @ 10/2/2001 9:31:30 AM #
Monarch also makes a similar printer. They have a 6015 model that is just a printer and a 6017 model that inclues a card reader.
http://www.monarch.com/products/6015.htm
http://www.monarch.com/products/6017.htm

They are twice as expensive.

RE: Monarch
Termezy @ 10/15/2001 1:17:36 PM #
We are a software development company . We have to make a choice between the two of them based on the quality of print , the running cost and maintenance...

Have you used both and can you compare?

RE: Monarch
jeff@ipcprint.com @ 2/10/2002 1:32:15 PM #
The main comparison I have for the Monarch is that it twice the price of the PP-50 and prints at half of the speed. The one piece price for the Monarch is $399 and the print speed is 1 inch per second. The PP-50 one piece price is $199 and prints at 2 inches a second. Please contact me at jeff@ipcprint.com if you need more info on the PP-50 printer. IPC is the Master Distributor for the PP-50 unit.

Wish I would have known a week ago!

diamondchic @ 10/24/2001 11:19:20 PM #
I bought the sipix a week ago. It is a good printer for what I need, but this pp-50 seems much more versatile for only $50 more...poor me!

Do your research next time.
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/24/2001 11:52:22 PM #
This article has been here since 9-6-01, dummy.

RE: Wish I would have known a week ago!
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/19/2001 7:09:22 AM #
why is the writer a dummy for not finding this article until after he bought his printer.

sounds like you're the dummy, cos this is what's called sods law. as soon as you buy something, you'll always find something cheaper and better.


Printer PP-50

I.M. Anonymous @ 11/12/2001 9:28:36 AM #
We want to use a palm connected to a magnetic card reader and also to a thermal printer.
I saw in one of your pages you have some information about Datecs PP-50 printer, I would like to know how the printer is connected to the Palm.
Thanks in advance.


RE: Printer PP-50
jeff@ipcprint.com @ 2/10/2002 1:27:54 PM #
Your PDA will slide into a cradle that will lock it in place. Thus, it is connected at the bottom. We are also in the process of developing a PP-50 with an attached mag stripe at the top. My name is Jeff Scott and I work for IPC. We are the master distributor for the PP-50 (by Datecs). Please feel free to contact me at jeff@ipcprint.com or visit our web site www.ipcprint.com

RE: Printer PP-50
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/26/2002 9:52:50 AM #
I need more information about the possibility of using Palm m500 series product with a thermal
printer and smartcard reader attachment. Further I need to know if any value added device is
available to enable Palm m500 as smart card reader. For thermal printing I know that PP-50 can
be used. If such a device is available the requirement is for about 2000 units over a period of
12months approx. Pls let me know.

PP-50 Smart Card Application
jeff@ipcprint.com @ 3/29/2002 12:07:18 AM #
Hello PP-50 Smart Card Application Developer. We are able to modify/enhance the PP-50 with Smart Card capability. Please e-mail me your specific application information so that we can get started (jeff@ipcprint.com). My name is Jeff Scott and I'm the Director of Sales for IPC. We are the master distributor for the PP-50 in North America. We work together with the factory to make custom configurations of the PP-50. Also feel free to call me at (888)624-9574.

With Palm M105 ?

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/17/2002 6:37:26 PM #
Is the Datecs PP-50 Palm Printer compatible with the Palm M105?


RE: With Palm M105 ?
jeff@ipcprint.com @ 2/10/2002 1:21:55 PM #
The PP-50 does not yet work with the Palm M105. It currently only works with the Palm III and Palm V. We are working on the Palm 500 and 700 at this time. I believe we will also do the Palm 105 withen the next few months.

Compatible with the Palm M105?

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/17/2002 6:41:00 PM #
Is the Datecs PP-50 Palm Printer compatible with the Palm M105?

dea_ironi@yahoo.com

inform me

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/21/2002 7:51:52 AM #
i want to buy a palm,tell which is the good forme, as i want use internet& printer.
inform me about the cost in rupees.

RE: inform me
jeff@ipcprint.com @ 2/10/2002 1:24:19 PM #
My name is Jeff Scott and I'm the Sales Director of IPC. We are the master distributor of the PP-50 (by Datecs). Please send me an e-mail at jeff@ipcprint.com to inform me of your location (for I can inform you of our nearest office). IPC has offices in Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta and New York. Our web site is www.ipcprint.com.

Where to buy the PP-50 Printer in North America

jeff@ipcprint.com @ 3/13/2002 3:24:12 PM #
Infinite Peripherals Company (IPC) is the Master Distributor of the PP-50 printer in North America. We have offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and New York. Please feel free to contact us for any questions about this product. Our web site address is www.ipcprint.com and my e-mail address is jeff@ipcprint.com. My name is Jeff Scott and I'm the Director of Sales and Marketing.

RE: Where to buy the PP-50 Printer in North America
Mitch @ 3/21/2002 2:34:30 PM #
Software Ventures, LLC has been a distributer and user of the Datecs PP-50 for over a year. My name is Mitch Goldstein. If you would like competitive pricing or have any questions, please contact me at mgoldstein@softwareventures.net. Also, coming soon, a one of a kind, fully functional protective case. This case will allow you to use the printer and palm device without removing them from the case. Check out our website at www.softwareventures.net.

Where to buy the PP-50 Printer in North America

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/1/2002 12:24:07 PM #
Infinite Peripherals Company (IPC) is the Exclusive Master Distributor for Datecs PP-50 printer. We have offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and New York. Please feel free to contact us for any questions about this product. Our web site location is www.ipcprint.com or you can e-mail me at jeff@ipcprint.com. My name is Jeff Scott and I'm the Director of Sales and Marketing for IPC. My direct dial office number is (888)624-9574.
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