Review: BERG Cloud Little Printer
The printer takes two minutes to set up. A bridge unit plugs into the Internet via an Ethernet hub and connects wirelessly to the Little Printer.
The first job is to register your Little Printer and create an account on the BERG Cloud website using a unique code generated by the printer.
Content to be delivered to the printer is managed either via the BERG Cloud website. Within 30 minutes I'd selected content to be pushed to the Little Printer and a light flashed to indicate that it was ready to print.
Content is printed by hitting a black button on the top of the printer. The device responds by spewing out your content onto 56mm wide thermal paper. The format is much like a till receipt.
Internet of Things BERG Cloud uses the metaphor of a newspaper to deliver snippets from the web and your social network to the Little Printer once a day. Its vision is a series of low bandwidth devices connected via the hub, delivering data back and forth to the Internet.
You can invite your friends to send messages to the printer but its not the easiest of processes. You need to issue invitations by email and they have to register an account on the BERG Cloud website and then log onto the site to send messages.
Ever since I first heard about the Little Printer last year I've been keen to try it out. It is elegantly simple and looks great. Someone has put a lot of thought into the product design and software development.
I so want to love my Little Printer. Its promise is endearing. The idea of pulling personalised snippets from the web and your social network and printing them out is hugely appealing.
But for now there are three aspects that need development.
Cost, content and messaging The cost is prohibitive. At £200 the Little Printer is an early adopter's plaything. In my view the price needs to come down to £30 to £40 if its to have mainstream appeal. In time I've no doubt the price will come down as cost is engineered out and volumes increase.
The second issue is content.
Content from the BERG Cloud is limited to a hand picked set of social and traditional media content. I picked headlines from The Guardian, crossword clues from The Times, the most popular Instagram image of the day from my network, and a summary of my friends' FourSquare updates.
There needs to be much more. I want The Economist, The New York Times and Econsultancy for starters. RSS summaries from my Google Reader would also be good.
BERG Cloud has opened up its API so in time more publishers will undoubtedly make their content available in a Little Printer friendly format.
Finally messaging. I'd love to be able to receive text messages, a summary of Facebook messages, or Twitter replies on the Little Printer.
Instead to send a message to the printer you have to go through the rigmarole of inviting people to create an account and use the BERG Cloud website. I'm all for limiting spam but there's simply too much friction.
Its early days for the Internet of Things. This is a great effort by BERG Cloud to create a personalised media device that produces snippets from the web in a physical print product.
But it could do so much more. In time I hope that it will.