When you are considering a wireless laser printer, be certain that it will be compatible with all the devices you might want to connect to it, including tablets and smartphones. Below is an overview of some of the options available for wireless connectivity.
Wi-Fi is so common that you may take it for granted. However, while 802.11 is currently the standard, even it has variations — b, g, and n. All but the most basic printers for home or home office use very likely will support those options. However, because hard-wired Ethernet connections are so common in business settings, printers intended for business and office use may only offer a Wi-Fi connection as a high-priced add-on.
Technologically, Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct connections are identical. However, while Wi-Fi requires that all devices connect to the printer through a network, Wi-Fi Direct allows Wi-Fi enabled desktops and laptops to connect directly to the printer without being added to the network. It is not a common option, but it would be useful in an office setting when a visitor from outside the company, such as a sales rep or consultant, may want to print a document.
Printers that support AirPrint allow Apple iOS devices — iPads, iPod Touches, newer iPhones, and Mac computers running OS X — to access the printer without the need to install an additional app. Most printers will require your iOS device or Mac to be connected to the network, but some models do allow direct Wi-Fi connections.
Near Field Connection (NFC)
If you have seen the television commercials that show smart phones sharing information after being tapped together, you have seen NFC in action. With this newer wireless option, tapping an NFC device — a smartphone or tablet — on the printer’s NFC-pickup spot authorizes a connection between the two and creates a link. The NFC device then either transmits the document or image on its screen to the printer via Wi-Fi or another wireless connection, or else a menu opens that allows you to select printing options.
Like NFC, Bluetooth pairs the printer and the Bluetooth device, but unlike NFC, the device and the printer communicate directly. Bluetooth has been waning in popularity, however, as Wi-Fi is now favored.
Other Connection Options
To enable printers to connect with newer iOS and Android devices, manufacturers constantly develop their own apps. In addition, HP offers ePrint, which assigns an email address to your printer. When you send an email that contains an attachment to that address, the printer automatically prints the attachment. Printers with Google’s Cloud Print option allow remote printing from mobile devices that connect to Cloud Print via installed apps. For more information, please check out the West X Business Solutions website.