HP lets you print from anywhere - and Bactrack can help you avoid 'Imperial Entanglements'
By Jim Bray
In today's mobile society, being able to send documents home for later perusal is a wonderful feature. But what if you actually want a printout waiting for you when you get home?
And what if, while you're out messing around with documents you want to retrieve later, you've imbibed a few "pops" and want to make sure you're still going to be okay to drive?
Well, friends, that's what's called a cheap way to introduce two topics for a single column – in this case Hewlett Packard's interesting and convenient Tango printer and BacTrack's C6 portable breathalyzer.
It takes less than two (hundred) to Tango…
HP's Tango is a $179.99 (Canadian) printer you can stick just about anywhere (hey, be nice!) and to which you can print from just about anywhere. It's also, for the less trusting of authority, a nice way for HP to share your printer data and content with whoever they may choose.
Not that I'm paranoid, you know. I just needed to say that because there's someone standing over me in my home office insisting that I do that.
Anyway, it's a pretty neat little printer that really does work as advertised – and not only can you print from anywhere you're connected to the internet, the printer will also track your ink usage and you can have it (well, your account) set up to order supplies before you run out, then have them delivered right to your home.
I like the sound of that, and you may too, though I'd probably never use that aspect of it because I'm not the most trusting of folks and don't usually give my credit card information voluntarily unless I have to. That said, I'm also a guy who gave his credit card info to Roku because that's the only way you can get their services – and they've never let me down so far by having unwanted charges show up on my card.
So. you're probably safe giving HP the info – just don't come whining to me if it blows up in your face.
You might think $180 is a lot for a little printer when they're sold pretty well as impulse items at places such as Wal-Mart, but that may be a case of comparing apples-to-oranges. And there's a lot to like about the Tango, so much so that I begged them to let me keep it (they turned me down) when it came time to send it back.
Setting up the Tango is just about the easiest printer experience I've had. You take it out of the box, clear off a place to put it (I stuck it down in my workshop, where it's out of the way yet accessible enough for the rare times we actually need to print something), stick in the pair of ink cartridges and then go through a simple configuration process involving the HP Smart App you download to make the system work.
The whole procedure took only a couple of minutes and if you want to add the printer to any of your other devices (I set it up for my iPad and my Android phone as well) you just have to get software for them at 123.hp.com. Heck, if you're one of those silly folks who owns an Amazon Alexa or Go Ogle Assistant, you can supposedly tell the Tango to print using your voice, which is not only convenient as heck but also lets your info go out into cyberspace via a couple of companies who really, really, really have your best interests at heart. But I'm not paranoid.
Since I have issues with actually reading instructions, I had difficulty getting the Tango to print from outside of our home Wi-Fi network. Try as I might, my iPad would not find that darn printer when I tried at both a friend's and a nearby watering hole. Then, like a baseball getting larger in my field of vision, it hit me: try using the HP app!
And that made all the difference. Worked first time, like a charm, and now if any of the good folks at HP are monitoring my output, they'll get a great view of an internet meme showing a four-ounce (yuge!) tin of Dr. D. J. Trump's Butt-hurt Salve. I hope they find it as funny as I do.
So, yes, you can print from virtually anywhere and from my limited experience the print quality is as you'd expect – which means it's fine depending on the quality of the paper you're using and the source quality of the printout itself.
The Tango isn't an all-in-one, but you can make it act like one by using your smart device's camera to act as a scanner – then fire off the image to the Tango for action. Naturally, you can also use it as a copier that way as well.
There are various plans for which you can sign up and if you opt for the Instant Ink option HP says you can print photos from your smartphone for free (which, obviously, means "included in the price").
In all, it's a pretty neat printer with pretty neat capabilities.
BACtrack, meanwhile, has some nice tools you can use when you're out with the guys (or girls or non-binaries or just plain weird or confused folks) to ensure you don't do something stupid like mow down a pedestrian as you drive home drunk.
BACtrack (the BAC stands for "Blood Alcohol Content") sent me their C6 to test, which is listed currently on their Canadian website for $69.99 (on sale, $20 off). It's one of a range of units they offer, and one their PR rep said to me offers "police-grade accuracy and optional smartphone connectivity."
It's quite similar to another BACtrack I reviewed back in 2014, except now they've put a little OLED screen on the side so you can monitor your BAC without having to fire up the app that can accompany and enhance the unit.
Here's how the BACtrack folks describe the product: "Powered by BACtrack's proprietary BluFire fuel cell sensor technology, the all-new for 2018 BACtrack C6 Keychain Breathalyzer is the smallest police-grade alcohol tester ever created! Roughly the size of a 9V battery and weighing only 1.5oz, the C6 delivers reliable and accurate BAC results from a tiny, yet powerful package. The C6 is also the first BACtrack to offer the new 'Dual-Mode' operation. Choose 'Standalone Mode' and your BAC results are delivered directly to a bright, easy-to-read OLED screen. Alternatively, choose 'App Mode' and the BACtrack C6 seamlessly pairs with your smartphone via Bluetooth. Using the free BACtrack App, you can quickly and easily estimate your BAC, track your results over time, and with ZeroLine, estimate when your BAC will return to 0.00%. You can even call an Uber or Lyft directly from the App if you've had too much.
"Perfect for any social situation, from happy hour to dinner parties, the ultra-portable BACtrack C6 keychain breathalyzer will help you and your friends drink smarter and make better decisions while drinking."
Can't argue with that. While the app is nice to have, especially if you're faced and want to know how long it'll take you to become unfaced again, you don't really need it to use the BACtrack. The little screen on its side works just fine, and if you blow a high number you can just take a cab or bum a ride.
I tried the app while at a local watering hole and it told me I'd be legal to drive in the year 2525 (if Man is still alive). Okay, I'm kidding.
I have issues actually blowing into the device, because you have to hold your lips just right to steer your breath into the thing, and unless you get it right the BACtrack gives you an error message and you have to shut if off and restart it again. Not a big deal, of course, but frustrating.
That said, my daughter in law took to it right away and blew into it perfectly first time, quite ironically because she doesn't drink more than a rare glass of wine or shot of tequila.
The BACtrack also comes with some extra plastic mouthpieces so you can share the unit among your boozy buddies without worrying about getting, or giving, cooties. The AAA battery used to power the device is included in the box, too.
BACtrack is an important device that could actually save careers and/or lives – and how can you argue against that? Sure, some people could look at it as a way to skirt the law, but who in his/her/its right mind is going to have one of these things, blow an outrageous number, and then knowingly throw caution to the winds by driving home anyway?
Okay, besides Ted Kennedy.
Breathalyzer.ca, who supplied me with the sample BACtrack, also offers a variety of such devices on their website ranging in price from $40 to $160 CAD depending on the market and features desired.
Downside? Yeah, remembering to take the thing with you when you head to the bar! But that isn't the BACtrack's fault!
Copyright 2019 Jim Bray
Jim Bray's columns are available through the TechnoFile Syndicate.
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