I recently modified my home network to increase the accessibility of my printers. I have two printers. Now, both of them work with my desktop computers, my wireless laptop, our iPhones and my wife’s iPad. Installation and setup was surprisingly easy, too.
One printer is an HP Color Laserjet CP1518ni, which is built to be a network printer with its own IP address (no "Windows File & Printer Sharing" necessary). It hooks to the network via an Ethernet cable. The other printer is an older model, an HP Laserjet 1220se.
The LJ1220 is a black-and-white laser printer, so it’s the default printer for us (printing from the color printer is more expensive, and really more expensive if you’re just printing black & white because of laser cartridge prices. Not only that, this printer dates back to the days of parallel port printers. It actually has both a USB interface and a parallel port interface. I remember when I finally switched it to USB (a new computer didn’t have a parallel port) and discovered how much faster the USB printing was.
So, of the two printers, one was accessed directly via the network, and the other (the HP1220se) was "shared" (Windows File and Printer Sharing) by the networked computer to which it was connected by USB cable.
When my family got iPhones, all was well. No one really had a desire to print anything from the iPhone. If you wanted to print a web page and were at home, you used a computer to surf to the page and print it.
That satisfaction changed when I got an iPad. Well, I had an iPad for a couple of weeks — then my wife took it over!
While she still has her desktop computer and uses it for many things, the iPad gets used for games, email and the web when we’re relaxing by watching television, DVD’s or Blu-Ray disks.
The iPad performs many of the functions for her that her desktop computer used to do. For a while, if she really wanted to print an email or print a web page, she would forward the email or link to her desktop computer, open it there, and print.
That got old. I heard that it got old. I heard again that it got old. Yet again, I heard about it. (Do you see a pattern here?)
The solution was a new adapter that easily hooks to an Ethernet cable and a USB cable. You might think the device would only work as a print server for that one printer. Not so.
This new device is actually a print server that sits between the network and the printer. It hooks to the network via an Ethernet cable and hooks to the printer using a USB cable. It gets its power via a typical small transformer with power cable.
Once connected to the network and power, it automatically searches the network for printers, and then makes all of them available to iPhones, iPads, wireless computers, and wired computers. The computers require a free program from Apple, the Apple Bonjour Printer Service, in order to find and use the printers through the device.
My new print server that does all this is a Lantronix xPrintServer Home Edition for iOS Printing – XPS1002HM-01-S.
It took me a long time to decide that I really needed to do this, since I was already using a Buffalo Print Server to connect the LJ1220 printer to the network. It was the right move.
My wife enjoys being to print from the web browser in her iPad. Yea!