London design firm introduces the ‘Little Printer’: Will it take off?

Christine Dunne
Jan 13, 2012

The Little Printer

I recently learned about a London-based design firm that’s got some big plans to integrate cloud-connected technology and creative design. BERG has named its new effort “BERG Cloud”; its first project is a little printer called — well, the Little Printer. It’s expected to launch this year in beta form.

The printer is unlike anything I’ve seen before. Not only is it the smallest (and cutest) printer I’ve ever encountered, but it prints you your own, personalized mini-“newspaper” at the press of a button. You can get everything from the latest news to your friends’ most recent foursquare check-ins to your favorite crossword puzzle, in one tiny printout.

You use your smartphone to subscribe to your favorite publications and choose when you’d like them delivered. The printout looks like a receipt, and the idea is you can comfortably read it while enjoying breakfast, stick it on the fridge, jot notes on it, put it on your wallet, etc. — basically a whole combination of things you can’t do with the digital news.

What’s also interesting is the Little Printer uses thermal technology, so no ink or toner is needed. Also, you can put it anywhere in your home that’s close to a power outlet — not necessarily in your “computer room.” As long as you’ve plugged a small box into your broadband router, the printer will be wirelessly connected to the Web.

Still, I have a few questions about the product:

  • What will it cost? BERG has not announced how much it will be selling the Little Printer for, but if it’s much more than $30 or $40 I wonder whether there will be much interest. It’s not really a necessity, nor can it replace a regular printer. I’m also curious as to how much the thermal paper will cost (it will be available through BERG as well as third-party sites), especially if people follow BERG’s suggestion to print two mini-newspapers a day.
  • How will it impact the environment? BERG plans to supply paper from 75 percent recycled sources, but it isn’t clear whether the thermal paper can, or should, be recycled. Thermal paper often contains Bisphenol A (BPA), a substance that may have harmful health effects. When the paper is recycled, it can contaminate paper napkins, toilet paper, food packaging and other paper products. BERG says it’s investigating several suppliers of BPA-free paper, but I’d like to know when they’ll definitely be using BPA-free paper.

  • How do subscriptions work? According to BERG, they’ve partnered with companies like Google, foursquare, The Guardian and Arup to launch the Little Printer. I’m assuming this means you can subscribe to their updates, but what about other companies? What if you want news from the New York Times, Facebook and the Japan Times — can you get it? If subscription options are too limited, I fear the product won’t prove very useful.

  • Can you print one thing out at a time? I also wonder if you can print single articles, documents or webpages off your smart phone. This would add another dimension to the Little Printer, making it an even more practical resource. Many people today don’t have a regular printer, so the Little Printer could serve as a kind of alternative.

I reached out to the folks at BERG with my questions, and they said they’re not quite ready to answer them. That’s fine by me, though I’m eager to hear what they have to say!

If the Little Printer is affordable enough, I would certainly consider buying one or giving it as a gift (I’m always looking for cute, unusual gift ideas). Even if it didn’t get used much, at least it wouldn’t have put a dent in my finances. If it’s costly, however, I would seriously have to consider its value. After the initial novelty and excitement, would I use it regularly? If the answer is “no,” there’s really no point in buying one — unless, of course, you have extra money to throw around.

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