The Youdao Pocket Printer is one super cute little thermal printer, which is ink-less and wireless, and connects to your phone. You can print notes, photos, flashcards, invitations, and much more all from your iOS or Android device. And the reason it features on my blog is it has a full Simplified Chinese character range too, including some nifty applications for learning Chinese.
The printer was recently gifted to me from Youdao, with no compensation nor obligation to write a review or blog post. As readers of this blog will know, this blog runs on a non-profit, no-affiliation, sponsorship or commission basis. But as a ONE-OFF this post contains a time-limited affiliate link, which will give you a 20% discount on Youdao products and also donate 10% to a charity supporting the humanitarian situation in Ukraine. I feel it’s a worthy cause, and no, I haven’t been paid to say this either.
What is a thermal printer?
It’s a tiny little printer that uses a small roll of paper (think of a shopping docket), and a phone app to send signals to the printer via Bluetooth.
You don’t need any ink for these printers, which is fascinating. Thermal printing uses special paper (thermochromic paper) which goes through a thermal print head to create a digital image. It means that you don’t need to worry about ink refills or mess when changing cartridges. All you need is a roll of thermal paper!
There are a few brands out there. I like Youdao because the app also allows for Chinese characters and has some interesting functions which link back into Youdao’s dictionary among other things.
What’s in the box?
The printer – it’s about the size of a clam-shell flip phone. The printer comes with the paper already loaded and the printer partially charged.
English instruction manual
It’s so simple. Just open the box and go. You’ll need a smartphone to link the printer to the Youdao Pocket Printer app (download this first). It can be set up within a few seconds.
The system language default is English, but it can be changed to Chinese.
Why would you use it?
These are some of the things we have used this black and white printer for…..
Flashcards and vocabulary: The printer can also be connected to the Youdao Dictionary APP to print out words and definitions and add pictures. Personally, an improvement I’d like to see Youdao make is to add a set of preexisting flashcards directly into the app, rather than just the template.
Character writing practice: You can print out practice handwriting sheets for pinyin – you can do this from pre-existing pictures (or use your phone to photograph from a textbook).
Printing out lists or information for the kids: My kids do a LOT of online classes, and usually, I get emailed the Zoom details for these. Instead of having to write these out, I can simply print out the details direct from my email for the kids to use.
Birthdays: Firstly, you can print the birthday invitation this way. Secondly, it can do cute black & white photos at the party – it’s not a polaroid camera, but it’s cheaper! Don’t expect anything too fancy – it’s 200-dpi resolution and grayscale, but still a fun gimmick. Finally, if you want to chew through the thermal paper, it’s simple to print a long banner to decorate the party room.
Shopping lists or to-do lists for the kids: there’s a template for this, and drafts can be saved, so you can add to it during the week and then pass to your husband 😉 You can also save past lists or designs to print out again, so something I use this for is printing a list each week for the kids of things to work on.
Scanning text: It has a clever OCR technology that can pick up printed text (eg from a book or song lyrics) and place it into the app. So it’s possible to print out a memory verse or moxie passage and pass it to the child to revise. It’s a perfect size for sticking into the school diary too.
Business functions: we haven’t done this, but you could easily print receipts, QR codes, barcodes, business addresses etc using the printer too.
- Lots of existing templates and filters: enabling you to easily design fun and creative notes, photos, labels, banners, etc Notably, this also includes specific designs for Chinese flashcards.
- Includes a text scanning and extraction feature: can scan English or Chinese text (eg a phrase from a book) and print out the selection
- Ability to print from web pages or photos – so simple and this includes the ability to link into the Youdao dictionary app too, and print definitions of Chinese words, etc.
- Portable: it’s 7.5xm x 7.5xm x 3.0 cm, and study – nothing loose or too technical.
- Low cost: the refills of paper are ~US2.00 per roll (or less).
- Different colors of paper, including adhesive stickers: paper refills come in pastel yellow, pink and blue, as well as white, and include adhesive paper for labels/nametags too
- Quality of photo printing: is not ideal, but for simple black and white, it’s very clear.
- Longevity of the printouts: You know how a shopping docket fades? This will too, and it depends on the quality of the thermal paper you buy. The basic paper will fade in 3 months at normal temperatures. Apparently, the retention time can be 20+ years with the fancier paper (if I were to test this fact, the blog post wouldn’t come for a few more decades).
- Availability of the app: The printer won’t work without the app. The app is not available in all geographies, so check it’s available in your app store before purchasing the printer!
- Sensitivity to heat: Heat exposure damages thermal paper permanently – so don’t leave your printer or the rolls of paper in direct sunlight or heat from the kitchen area, etc.
Where to buy the Youdao Pocket Printer?
The Youdao pocket printer is widely available on Amazon and Shopee.
If you buy from the official Youdao store and Amazon you can receive a 20% discount with LAHLAHYD20 coupon code. It will also generate 10% donation to a charity that can provide support to the Ukraine, which will be donated at the end of May (when this coupon code will be removed).
If you are buying this printer, do also check out Youdao’s other clever home stationery solutions too (you think I’m joking right??). Their electric eraser is particularly good for Chinese composition corrections, as it lets you erase a specific area with precision and speed. Their electric pencil sharpener is seriously sharp. And their teeny tiny desk vacuum cleaner is an indulgence, but great for encouraging a child to not spread their eraser dust all over the floor (and it comes with Chinese vocab cards on the top, for subliminal learning!). I’d never had dreamed up such inventions, but they’re a hit in our house.
What other gadgets are helpful for learning Chinese?
If you know any, please share! We leverage a lot of gadgets and tech in our quest to be a trilingual family. Other technology which I’ve reviewed previously that you may enjoy for learning Chinese includes:
- Luka Reading Robot
- Chinese scanning dictionary pens
- Habbi Habbi bilingual board books
- Chinese literacy apps
- Online Chinese language classes
Note regarding the donation to charity: I have chosen a charity which is working directly with Ukraine’s Ministry of Health and other on-the-ground partners to provide urgently needed medical aid, including emergency response packs intended for first responders, oxygen concentrators, critical care medicines, and much more. I haven’t disclosed the name on this blog yet, as I’m waiting for confirmation from the charity’s side that this would be okay. At end of May 2022 when the promo code link expires, I will disclose the total donation $ generated from this link.