Zebra Portable RFID Printer – First Thoughts

Portability, wireless, RFID, mobility have all been popular buzz words.  Here Zebra put them all together in an interesting new printer – the RP4T.

The new RP4T is unique in two respects. It is the only mobile printer that allows for thermal transfer printing – making it a great option for printing asset labels and for other applications that need something more durable than direct thermal labels.

In addition, the RP4T is the only mobile RFID printer on the market.

The nice folks at Zebra have been kind enough to let us have one of these printers to check out for a while. When the printer arrived, I slung it over my shoulder using the enclosed carrying strap – it looks just like a fancy “man bag”; maybe it will become the latest fashion trend for the well dressed labeling guy.

The design of the printer gives easy access to load both labels and the little cassette with the thermal ribbon. The slider mechanism for hiding the ribbon location is nifty, I wonder how nicely it will slide after those big tough warehouse guys have beaten it up a bit though.  

The oddest thing with the printer is the battery charger that came with it. Rather than having an adaptor to plug into the DC input on the side of the printer, the charger needs to have the battery removed so that it can plug into a connector that is on the battery itself. This means I can’t have the printer set up and running on AC power on my desk while testing it out, which is what I prefer to do.

I’m not 100% sure if this is the standard setup because this particular unit came from Zebra’s demo pool. I’d like to think that if I purchased a new printer, it would come with a more conventional charging solution.

I’m thinking this new model is going to be a great addition to our line up of solutions. We’ve already sold some (thermal transfer, no RFID) to use in asset tracking applications and we will be featuring the RFID ability of the RP4T at our DoD Labeling Seminar next month. We also plan to check out Zebra’s recently introduced ability to print from a Blackberry smartphone as well, although I’m impatiently waiting for an iPhone Zebra app!

As soon as I can, I’ll be doing some performance testing to see how the RP4T compares with our demo Intermec PB50 mobile printer – should be fun.

So far, I admit to being impressed with the RP4T. Nothing else has that much functionality in such a small attractive package. To be honest the only thing I dislike is the Made in China label on the back!

What do you guys think? Do you see, or have a need for the unique features of this printer? What would make it a better solution for your applications?

Give me a call at 603.598.1553 if you want more info.

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