AirPrint for grown-ups
Geek Treat of the Week As far a tech goes, my encounter with the Lantronix xPrintServer was somewhat unusual. This fag packet of a device plumbs into your network and enables an iPhone, iPad or even an iPod Touch to access the local printers, assuming there’s a Wi-Fi access point on the same subnet. There’s no need to track down an AirPrint compatible printer, as the xPrintServer lets you use grown-up printers in the office or home.
Networking skills: Lantronix's xPrintServer
Now the unusual part of all this is that I plugged it in and it just worked... in seconds. I’m still trying to get over it now. I suppose the Lantronix xPrintServer has a just one task to perform, but I’m so used to the promise of any tech satisfaction involving a certain amount of farting about that having it work out of the box borders on a dewy-eyed experience.
Now talking of dewy-eyed, you do have to pay £115 for the privilege, but as iOS devices become ever more ubiquitous in the office, it’s going to prove its worth printing out travel itineraries and the like booked on-line and other details that might appear in personal e-mail accounts kept on handhelds, rather than the office in-box.
Going through the motions: the list of available printers is conveyed to an iPhone 4S
The xPrintServer has only an external power supply connection and a 10/100Mbps Ethernet port. A short Ethernet cable is provided too and when attached to your network, activity lights around the RJ-45 connector indicate connection status and an orange X on the box blinks slowly when printer discovery routine is complete. The base has a reset button as well as serial number info that’s required for admin access.
If all goes well, and experience suggests it will, you simply go through the motions of printing from your iOS device. The Printer Options screen appears, you choose Select Printer and there’s a quick scan and then a list of available printers appears and you pick the one you want to print to. Tests with several iPhones and an iPad 2 in the office revealed that if the scan didn’t list the printers first time round, it never failed to show them with a second scan.
Next page: Making changes
Why doesn't it have a USB port for a printer?
Or did I miss that?
I have Network Printer servers here. They have connections to drive a printer.
My E65 phone via WiFi can print to any printer on the Network configured to appear as LPR. No extra boxes needed. Of course with the "stock" printer driver I have to emulate an HP laser too.
I can make any linux thing (my Router's USB port) or USB, Serial, Parallel make almost the stupidest printer look like a Postcript LPR device. If I'm really in the mood I can do it on NT4 (even for USB via 3rd party USB stack, but parallel is trivial), Win2000, XP or Win7 too.
So why spend £115 to achieve what almost anything you already have that talks to a printer can do for free?
Or what did I not understand?
Re: But ...
iOS doesn't talk a standard protocol. (although I'm willing to bet its something fairly close just with an apple specific header or encoding.
Or Air Print Activator
If you have a Mac on the network (let's say it's a smaller network), you can use Air Print Activator (http://netputing.com/airprintactivator/) to achieve the same results. And save a few quid in the process. :)
or use CUPS
Looks like base AirPrint support is built into CUPS. If you're a medium to large business you probably already have a CUPS server type appliance (headless Linux box) sitting somewhere behind the scenes accepting your print jobs. Add this configuration and you've saved a small chunk of money and another box to configure.
I never thought about printing from my iDevice
Until recently, tried Bonjour print services - Doesn’t seem to work
Tried Airprint - Didn’t work
Tried Fingerprint (£6.69 from http://www.collobos.com) and it worked first time.
Now, I'm no apple fanboi (OK, maybe the devices are growing on me but I still can’t get over my hatred for the 1st iMac that my wife had, I detested that machine) but given my experiences of these just working I was kind of surprised that I couldn’t just print to my PC printer without some outside assistance (and then I thought, “no, this is apple we're talking about, of course they’d make it difficult to interface to a PC!”)