Now, despite the plain sailing I encountered, there’s always going to some set-ups that need additional configuring and the Lantronix xPrintServer caters for a range of scenarios. You simply access the device from a web browser and options including entering in printer IP addresses manually are catered for. Furthermore, the xPrintServer supports firmware updates, so if Apple makes some protocol tweaks that need addressing, it would seem Lantronix will deliver a fix.
Browser configuration menu and status
Out of curiosity, I tried out the Lantronix xPrintServer on my home network. I hooked up my aged Canon i865 printer to the USB port of my Synology Nas box. While the presence of the printer is recognised and visible to computers on the network, the Nas doesn’t go the extra mile and actually support printing to this old model. Shame. Ensuring that the Synology Diskstation OS had its own AirPrint functions disabled, I set the xPrintServer to work.
Printers list with individual device options
What happened next was rather interesting, as all the office printers were listed. It would seem they stay resident and are broadcast whether or not they are actually present. Using the browser interface I performed a default reset which cleared this listing and checking the Discovery section revealed that, even though my Canon wasn’t available, the xPrintServer had at least found it, delivering the message:
Provisioning: usbprinter1 \064 DiskStation on socket network lpd://192.168.0.110:515/usbprinter
Admittedly, I never expected this particular test to work, but the xPrintServer’s capacity to discover a USB printer via a Nas box does seem hopeful for similar yet functioning set-ups that lack AirPrint. Incidentally, I also tried a similar approach with the i865 using printer sharing on a Mac, but the xPrintServer couldn't access it that way either. Such is the way with old kit. Stick to Ethernet printers and all should be well.
Irresistibly easy to implement with tech tweaks if you need them
The Lantronix xPrintServer is impressive in that it is as simple as it needs to be and yet offers all the relevant settings to accommodate more sophisticated set-ups tucked away for advanced users. The price is really the only aspect that I can grumble about, especially if you’re of the mindset that all adapters should cost no more than £50. However, the convenience of access to an array of quality printers in the workplace certainly simplifies matters and further extends the usefulness of Apple's unceasingly ubiquitous iOS devices. ®
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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!”)