Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Printing Wirelessly from a Tablet

I have searched and searched on the internet and have never found a good explanation of how to set up your wireless printer. So here goes.

There are many way to interconnect. Too many.

Tap or click for all the ways to print.


To use a wireless printer you either need a so-called wireless access point or router which incorporates wireless access. With internet access you already have a router.

(Without internet access it is possible to use so called bluetooth wireles, usually with a printer adapter . Bluetooth sets up a communication wirelessly and directly between your printer and device without a wireless access point. However, bluetooth is rarely used.)

As mentioned, with internet access you already have a router box delivering a connection to your computer. If it does not include wireless, the cheapest wireless box I have found is a D-link wireless access point at about $25.

 Next, you need a printer which works with wireless or an adapter. There then needs to be a way for your device to find your printer in that wireless jungle.

 There are many ways to do so. One is to assign some printers an email address and send it documents via email. Others work by connecting similarly. Connected to internet, the printer already has a so called IP address, effectively a computer phone number. This may change however from time to time. Ugh!!

The oldest and most prevalent way for the device to find the wireless printer is simply to login with your wireless login and password directly at the printer, using the printer's display. That is a little awkward and defeats those without X ray vision and finemotor fingers. The printer also needs to have such a display and keypad.

The process has been eased more recently. "No worries" wireless routers or access points have a push button. Pushing on the push button and then on the printer and then back on the printer, this process connects everything together very nicely.

However, there are even easier ways now. The most common and most prevalent is Google's Cloud Print technology. This is the most universal technology that works with almost all printers and devices. Cloudprint works by sending your document up to Google's cloud computer or server and then back to your printer. Sounds more complicated but works more automatically.

Until recently you need an old fashioned Windows or Apple computer to set it up. You download the software and it does the heavy work to interconnect everything. Cloudprint finds your printers and connects them to Internet magically.

That way you can print from anywhere to anywhere without further ado, a big advantage. Of course, you would like to avoid using that old dying .computer. You certainly do want to avoid the necessity of keeping your old archaic and troublesome Windows computer running. Fortunately "Cloudprint ready" printers are now out there and represent the easiest and most universal way to connect.

These are essential for new laptops like the Chromebook laptop which dispenses with ongoing connected Windows computers and their annoyances altogether, while providing all of their benefits.

For Apple devices there are other alternatives. An app called Fingerprint magically connects from a Windows computer. You just install the app. We want to avoid that Windows complication and Apple provides a better solution called AirPrint on its latest devices. Airprint goes out and finds printers and connects them magically. Clicking on the print sharing icon from an iPad sends the print job to the printer. 

There are also apps for non-Apple or Android devices which require another step. Tapping on the document file brings up the choice of sharing. The Office Pro app "MS Office lookalike" makes this all seamless. 

Finally, it is possible to connect your old printer with an adapter or so-called server. The adapter can plug into your printer or your router. One of these is the Lantronics device.

So, to recap, the Cloudprint ready printer is the latest and most universal solution while Apple's AirPrint offers an easy solution for Apple devices. Similar to Airprint is the Printershare app for other (Android) devices.

With a new wireless access point incorporating a WPS push button, conventional wireless printers become a snap to set up. Specific manufacturers provide other specific solutions for their particular printers. These include eprint and iprint printers. Eprint uses an email technology to connect to a Hewlett Packard printer. Iprint connects Epson printers over the internet.

For an easy wireless printer solution I bought a Canon $37 printer and connected it via the push button method, also Fingerprint, Cloudprint, Airprint, and finally Printershare. You only need one of these however. For most users the "cloudprint ready" printer is the best solution, alternatively Airprint for Apple devices.

Interesting Note: When my daughter read this posting she said "But DAD!!   The digital generation does not need or use printers any more---what would they DO with them??"  Oh, well, it is hard to treach an old dog new tricks.

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