Recently, one of the trending products we have seen pop up on Kickstarter and other sources – are portable printers. They are small, easy to use and seems like a fun piece of tech to have in your bag to spice up a project in the way you want. Colop, pronounced ko-lop, made their own variation of portable printer which they call it the E-mark and it comes in two different model: the basic e-mark and Create version. They sent us the e-mark for us to take a look at and we did. After trying it out, here’s our verdict on the Colop e-mark Portable Printer.
Quite the Portable Package
Once you unbox the Colop e-mark from its box, you will realize that its quite the compact printer, but it isn’t tiny but definitely in a smaller footprint to make anyone wonder if it’s really a printer. Weirdly enough, the design of the Colop e-mark reminded us of the Xenomorph from Aliens. Seriously, you can look at the picture below right beside the Xenomorph and you will know what we mean.
But that out of the way, the e-mark has a very ergonomic friendly design because its curved on the top like a shell and holding it feels a lot better as compared to those squareish more angular finished portable printers. The shell up top pops up and its where the battery sits. Once you remove the battery, its where you will see the cartridge.
It uses a triple color cartridge that you’d find on an inkjet printer, but E-mark has their cartridges available that will be sold separately. If you do plan to take this out for a trip – be it for work or to do projects that is, it also comes with a soft touch protective case, which I find that it’s a nice thing you’d want to get – as its sold separately.
Finally, the e-mark sits on a baseplate that sticks magnetically and you will notice that the cartridge head sits on the silicon pad which prevents the cartridge to dry up – and that’s a thoughtful design. Overall, the e-mark design boasts a well-rounded functional design that adds practically with the looks of a Xenomorph.
Getting used to the e-mark was a learning curve
One thing that’s a little challenging is using the e-mark because it’s not easy, but it isn’t hard either. You will have to turn it on, and then pair it with your smartphone to connect and take complete advantage or to even make it work. It uses the Wi-Fi protocol to connect which is a better method as it offers a continuous uninterrupted connection and reduces the need unnecessary reconnecting like Bluetooth does.
Once you pair it and start using it, you will identify based on the beep and the light that its ready – but if that’s a little challenging, you can look in the app to see if it says “Ready and you can print.”. Now to print, you need to slide the e-mark sideways and the problem with that is – you need to do it at the right pace. Doing it slow wouldn’t print whatever you are printing well and doing it too fast will smudge the whole thing. So, you need to find the right sweet spot. There is going to be lots and lots of trial-and-error before you get it right but once you do, it’s the perfect looking print you’d have ever seen on a spot you thought you will never be able to print.
For the most part the e-mark was able to print on most paper conditions except for selected paper like Stone Paper, which is a different kind of paper material that you won’t encounter that much as its water resistant. I have to say the urge to print on the e-mark was definitely there because it’s a fun tool – now Colop marketed to be the “New Era for stamps” but in all reality, they made a product that does more than that. For instance, you can use it to print labels or even make access wrist bands which is a pack that’s sold separately. But for the most part, your customization is endless with this but with the limited width you can only do so much, and this is where the app plays a major role.
The App isn’t good, but it isn’t bad either
The key to making the Colop e-mark work best is with the app that you will be able to find on App Store and Play Store. Once you do find the e-mark, pair it and start making your label – that’s where the app hits an absolute snag. Now it isn’t the most user friendly app you will find but it’s the kind of app that you will take time once – and just once – to just get everything right and then be done with it. In my case, that’s what I did. Imported all my required image for my label and then saved it. Oh, there is an option to add it as a favorite label so that you don’t have to make them from scratch every time. And I left it as is and just used that.
The thing is that the app could have been a lot more friendly and easy to use because right off the bat, its very overwhelming to notice that its all over the place and general users would feel a little anxious if they are doing it right or would this break their new e-mark that they purchased. The whole creating process could take advantage of the phone in landscape mode as it does give more room to do what you want to the label and so on. The controls could be a lot more organized and the quick use where you want to use the essential things the e-mark was supposed to do, in a simple organized manner too.
The e-mark’s software experience wasn’t an absolute letdown or a disappointment, but it was all over the place and it takes really long while to get used to and even then, you wouldn’t have the urge to do anything other than setting up your favorite stamps as the quick shortcut – and… that’s it.
The not-so-portable aspect: The Charger
The whole idea behind the e-mark is to make it portable, a printer you can bring anywhere. But the charging method doesn’t seem to scream “portability”. There are two ports at the back, a Micro USB and a hidden port placed in the corner of the base to charge the e-mark. It uses a tiny proprietary DC IN port. The very fact that it uses a proprietary charger that requires you to find an outlet when you are out doing your business, kind of adds an inconvenience.
Then what about the Micro USB port then? Good question. It’s not for charging but to connect to your PC to use their software to print. They could have made that not just for data transfer but also for charging. Its just me nitpicking but then again, the idea of portability is hindered by the charger. But hey, look at the bright side, there’s a battery in it for you to use it on the move.
The Colop e-mark is a nice portable printer that was marketed to do stamping, but it actually broadens the horizon with a lot of room for creativity for the end users. But with the slight short comings as we mentioned above, if COLOP is willing to take things into their hands and make the experience, you are definitely getting a good portable printer. It does come at a pretty penny with the Colop e-mark priced at RM 1,399 with a free protective case worth RM 89 and if you want to get the cartridge when its over, that will cost about RM 169. But to me, what I see as – it’s a long-term investment for offices.
Hopefully the next generation e-mark brings USB-C to the table, some impressive versatility and better app experience.
Special thanks to COLOP for sending us the e-mark for this review happen. The Adventures of Vesper has affiliate partnerships. These do not affect the content we produce on The Adventures of Vesper but gives us an opportunity to earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links.