Print Wirelessly

By M. David Stone  |  Posted 2007-04-24 Print this article Print

A growing number of printers offer wireless connectivity, at least as an option. You can ditch that printer cable today.

Just as laptop computers let you operate wirelessly through a nearby access point, a growing number of printers and all-in-ones (AIOs) include wireless connectivity as a feature or an option. Advantages of wireless printing are that you wont need cables for it, and its more versatile and simpler.

Printers come with any of several connection choices, often more than one. The most common connection today, of course, is USB. But a fair number of printers still include a parallel port (still widely known as a printer port from pre-USB days). A large number have an Ethernet port for network connections. More and more include one or more wireless connections — Bluetooth, for printing from phones and other Bluetooth devices, or some flavor of 802.11 Wi-Fi, for printing from computers.

The key to choosing a connection is the same as its always been. Any connection will work, but make sure the printer you buy has a connection choice that matches one on your computer if you plan to connect directly, or on your network if you plan to connect through it.

That said, being able use a printer without connecting to it with a wire has a certain attraction. At home or in a small office, it can save you from having to string cables around a room or, worse, go to the expense of snaking wires through walls. And if you carry your notebook between home and office, it will let you print without having to repeatedly physically connect to and disconnect from your printer or your network. Instead, you can just turn on your notebook and print. Thats a useful convenience, whether youre in a one-computer home using a low-end all-in-one (AIO) like the Dell Photo All-In-One 926 Printer, a 100-computer office printing to a heavy-duty color laser like the Lexmark C770n, or between the two extremes in a small to medium-sized office, printing to, say, a Lexmark E250dn monochrome laser, an ink jet-based HP Officejet Pro L7680 All-In-One, or a Dell Multifunction Color Laser Printer 3115cn.

Keep in mind that you dont need a wireless printer to print wirelessly. If you already have a network with an access point to which you can connect with your notebook, you should be able to print just as if you were linked by network cable. More important, if you dont already have a network with an access point, it may be cheaper to set one up than to buy a new printer. Read the full story on Print Wirelessly

M. David Stone is an award-winning freelance writer and computer industry consultant with special areas of expertise in imaging technologies (including printers, monitors, large-screen displays, projectors, scanners, and digital cameras), storage (both magnetic and optical), and word processing. His 25 years of experience in writing about science and technology includes a nearly 20-year concentration on PC hardware and software. He also has a proven track record of making technical issues easy for non-technical readers to understand, while holding the interest of more knowledgeable readers. Writing credits include eight computer-related books, major contributions to four others, and more than 2,000 articles in national and worldwide computer and general interest publications. His two most recent books are The Underground Guide to Color Printers (Addison-Wesley, 1996) and Troubleshooting Your PC, (Microsoft Press, 2000, with co-author Alfred Poor).

Much of David's current writing is for PC Magazine, where he has been a frequent contributor since 1983 and a contributing editor since 1987. His work includes feature articles, special projects, reviews, and both hardware and software solutions for PC Magazine's Solutions columns. He also contributes to other magazines, including Wired. As Computers Editor at Science Digest from 1984 until the magazine stopped publication, he wrote both a monthly column and additional articles. His newspaper column on computers appeared in the Newark Star Ledger from 1995 through 1997.

Non-computer-related work includes the Project Data Book for NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (written for GE's Astro-Space Division), and magazine articles and AV productions on subjects ranging from cosmology to ape language experiments. David also develops and writes testing scripts for leading computer magazines, including PC Magazine's PC Labs. His scripts have covered a wide range of subjects, including computers, scanners, printers, modems, word processors, fax modems, and communications software. He lives just outside of New York City, and considers himself a New Yorker at heart.


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