The MEMOBIRD Paper Messenger and Note Printer – A Closer Look at Assistive Technology

YBLTV Review: MEMBOBIRD Paper Messenger and Note Printer

With the 2018 Nightclub & Bar Show just around the corner, it will be interesting to see the various iPad and mobile POS systems on exhibit. Being that they are the modern day cash registers and payment processors, technology is quickly evolving.  These iPad POS systems allow retail, restaurants, and other businesses a great deal of efficiency.

Since the introduction into mainstream life, cell phones and smart devices have aimed at providing gradual improvements to the world we live in. As we progress farther and farther into the arena of smart technology, this technology has become increasingly more accessible and significantly easier to replicate on the smaller scale for less and less initial cash investment. Items often emerge that answer a question that we as consumers didn’t even know we had until that moment, filling a need before the need had even emerged fully formed. However, the question often arises of whether or not the tech in question was needed in the first place.

Here, I introduce the Memobird Paper Messenger and Note Printer. This small, wireless device functions as one would imagine a printer would. It bills itself as a personal note messenger, printer, and organizer and operates via an app produced by Memobird and your choice of network (wi-fi, if you choose your home network, or through a local network accessed through your phone). The basis of Memobird is similar to that of a standard fax – one person will open the app and enter a text message, a drawing, or a photo from their phone’s gallery. They will then send this message in-app to someone on their approved contacts list; this friend will receive an alert and, within seconds, Memobird’s printer will begin printing out whatever message was sent to that printer’s paired app. The printer comes with thermal paper, preventing a possible issue with ink cartridge replacements throughout the lifespan of the printer itself; an AC adapter with micro-USB cable to supply power; and guides on operating your new printer.

MEMOBIRD. YBLTV Review by Katie Hernandez.
MEMOBIRD. YBLTV Review by Katie Hernandez.

While novel in concept, Memobird has several large issues regarding its practicality that all stem from the same primary problem: this technology is several years behind the current industry standard for the same type of functionality. While this have been an interesting concept in the mid-2000s, Memobird is not only competing with other, higher functioning at-home personal printers but also with smartphones now capable of notepad features that work with an integrated stylus (the most prominent example being the Samsung Note 8’s S-Pen feature). Below, I have listed some of Memobird’s biggest cons regarding its functionality and overall benefits in comparison with its listed price point:

  1. Not entirely wireless: one of my primary issues regarding the Memobird printer (aside from its overall relevancy) is that the printer is not entirely wireless. If I saw this product advertised online, I would already be mentally comparing it to other pocket-sized printers released within the last year. One of the main qualities of these portable printers is that they do not require a power adapter to perform their basic function – they either operate off of a previous charge or batteries. However, Memobird requires power at all times, meaning that this is a product contained to the office/communication space or will be offline until you can find an outlet to park at for your time away from home. It reduces the practicality of the device itself and comes off outdated in the era of wireless charging and instant messaging.
  2. Quality of the Intended Product by Today’s Standards: I could argue the benefits of Memobird if it wasn’t 2018 and industry standards weren’t set the way they are. One of the biggest issues is that Memobird prints on thermal paper (think receipt paper) – while this reduces the need for ink, it also diminishes the quality of the message or photo being sent. While it’s not terrible, I would have a clear, digital copy of any message just through iMessage or Facebook Messenger and the ability to not only receive photos, but even to save them to my gallery if they were sent to my phone. I’m not arguing against the Memobird’s ability to perform its intended function – my main issue is with the intended quality of the product in comparison with the most basic apps available today. I already carry dozens of leftover receipts in my purse throughout a day or week – something so similar would simply be excessive when I could have the digital copy at my fingertips in seconds. Additionally, the quality of the message itself can’t compete with a digital copy – during my trial use, the photos I was sent were visible, but in black and white and were usually grainy at best, and the messages were often trail words over to the next line. I just don’t see myself justifying the current price of the printer for the quality of what the product produces.
  3. Competition with Current Technology: As I previously mentioned, another issue that is brought up when questioning the Memobird’s practicality is the relevancy of the product itself when competing with current technology that can already do much of Memobird’s intended functionality. Let’s break it down like so – Memobird advertises itself as a personal messenger, printer, and organizer. Just going on my personal phone, I have already found providers for two out of those three main functions – my personal messaging app and several organization apps (Calendar, File Manager, time coded messages, etc.) that fill the role of very vague offerings. While my phone does not inherently have a “Print Function,” it does have the function to email photos to my desktop to be printed in higher quality content than the Memobird currently offers or even directly print from my at-home computer. Most times, there isn’t even a need to print the photos when everyone is content with receiving the digital copy directly. This is a situation where new technology is unable to compete with the current technology on the market because the idea itself is already out of date
  4. Reliability: During my trial use of the Memobird printer, another concern that emerged was the issue of reliability when sending messages. I sent and received several test messages to see the reliability of the printer and it was a little disappointing. More often than not, the printer would not print the message I received and there was not an option to reprint messages from your inbox, effectively deleting the messages before being read. Additionally, there’s no option to read the message prior to printing; this left me feeling a little guilty for creating excess waste just to read a message that could have gone to my phone without the complicated extra steps. Even though there’s the possibility of my phone dying while I’m out, I still found the convenience and reliability of my phone usually beat out the Memobird’s offerings without the complicated extra steps.
  5. Issues with the Company’s App: Finally, my last major issue with the Memobird printer was less with the printer itself and more to do with the app created to work in conjunction. The MyMemobird App works as follows: you’re required to create an account with the company, and then pair the printer to the app using a QR code created by the printer during initial setup. From there, you add other users to your contact list and can send out messages/photos to yourself or those friends on your list. However, there was a significant learning curve to using the app; there weren’t really any instructions to go along with the app itself and I found that the interface was very difficult to work with. Often, spaces to enter text would autofill while I was typing, making the sign up process longer than necessary due to deleting and re-entering text. Another hiccup with the app itself was when I would receive messages – the app would notify me of new messages having been received, but that’s only a guess as much of the notification was not in English. This is more of an annoyance than any major roadblock, but I feel that the app could have been streamlined more to be user friendly and to work more efficiently with the printer.
MEMOBIRD. YBLTV Review by Katie Hernandez.
MEMOBIRD. YBLTV Review by Katie Hernandez.

Pros:

  • Novelty product that can assist those looking for a physical transcription of messages – I could see someone like my dad using this product for grocery shopping or for creating a physical to-do list. He’s someone who still uses a physical calendar and refuses to sync his phone to any of his personal accounts, and I feel like he would appreciate having a tangible copy to assist in record keeping and note taking
  • Might address a lesser known need – I discussed earlier how the Memobird doesn’t inherently address a current need due to current technology having already addressed those advertised needs. However, looking through another lens, I stopped to consider if the Memobird printer might be useful for specific groups. I feel like many outside of the tech loop or those requiring assistive technology might appreciate having the physical copy of a message or photo being printed, which leads me to wonder how this product would do in those specific circles

Cons:

  • Confined to outlets, no independent power source
  • Quality of the printed product is not on par with current alternatives
  • Reliability of the printer itself is questionable at best,
  • App is not streamlined enough and the interface does not seem user friendly
  • Does not fulfill a large enough need by the current population

““MEMOBIRD Mobile Printer fails to compete with current technology regarding mass market needs, but may prove itself as a piece of assistive technology.” – Katie Hernandez / YBLTV Writer, Reviewer

Final Thoughts

For the current list price of $49.99, I don’t personally see the justification for the Memobird printer. The printer itself is behind current technology and seems excessive when I already have a smartphone to answer many of the needs the printer claims to address. However, it might not hurt to check out if you’re interested in experimenting with assistive technology and physical record keeping.

MEMOBIRD. YBLTV Review by Katie Hernandez.
MEMOBIRD. YBLTV Review by Katie Hernandez.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: YBLTV Writer / Reviewer, Katie Hernandez received MEMOBIRD for free from MEMOBIRD in consideration for a Product Review.

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