Print Wirelessly

By M. David Stone  |  Posted 2007-04-24

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.

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