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The Latest on Wireless PrintersBy: Adam Haigh
Consumers have been quick to embrace wireless networking with the rapid adoption of wireless notebook computers and wireless routers. But until recently they have been slow to adopt wireless printers primarily due to their high price and complexity of use.
Improvements to wireless printers have been dramatic in the past year, lowering the cost and improving the security, speed and ease of use.
If you have wireless networking for your home or small business, it may be time to consider purchasing a wireless printer.
Advantages of Wireless Printers
Despite their flexibility and convenience, until recently wireless printers were plagued by issues that included:
Improvements in wireless printer technology have eliminated these concerns, particularly in the areas of security, speed and ease of use.
It is important to remember that a wireless printer on the network is a hole in the network unless it is properly secured. Securing a wireless printer can be as simple as adding it to a secure virtual private network (VPN).
The other big reason wireless printing is increasingly safer are the advances in the 802.11i standards for wireless networking. 802.11i (sometimes referred to as WPA2 or RSN), unlike its predecessor Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), is much more secure using the Advanced Encryption Standard adopted by the U.S. government.
802.11i wireless devices, which most wireless printing technologies comply with, are also increasingly faster. There are three versions of the standard: 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n. The higher the letter of the alphabet, the more speed. 802.11n is comparable to a cable network in speed, but it hasn't been fully approved as a standard yet. Therefore 802.11g is the more stable option, albeit a little slower.
It is important to remember that as the number of users increases, the network slows down. Despite improvements, wired printing is still faster overall; therefore if you are printing a large document (over 100 pages) you should probably use a wired printer.
Ease of use
Ease of use is probably the biggest factor pushing wireless printing to the forefront. With the help of a VPN already in place and the standardization from 802.11 compliance, configuring routers and wireless kits have become easier. The convenience of enabling users to work from anywhere in their office or home and being able to print at acceptable speeds is a compelling incentive for adding a wireless printer to your network.
Wireless has been a good thing when it comes to computers. A WiFi network in the home lets you wirelessly connect to the Internet from most anywhere in or outside your home. And now wireless capabilities are showing up in computer devices besides the computer itself.
Purchasing a printer that has its own wireless network adapter built in eliminates the need for cables and lets you put your printer anywhere in the home where it is easily accessible to everyone. Once a printer is connected to the network, it will be usable to any authorized user or computer on that network. However like any device on your wireless network, proper security is essential.
For Small Office and Home Office (SOHO) or consumer use, WiFi wireless network printers are the best option. WiFi printers can always be powered on (in standby mode) and easily shared with many users without being a burden on a single computer. Wireless network printers are always ready to print as long as they are connected to the wireless network. To increase portability and convenience even more, WiFi printers can be moved to any location (within range) and stay connected.
WiFi Wireless Printers
Most all of the popular printer manufacturers such as HP, Epson and Lexmark have introduced inexpensive printers for the home and small offices that sport Wi-Fi connectivity. Just place the printer anywhere within your Wi-Fi network's range and you'll be printing without any wires. The only cord to the printer is its power cord.
As with anything this varied, the best way to determine which printer make and model is right for you and your budget is to go to your local computer store or go online and compare each printer's specifications and features. A few of the newer models are listed below:
When considering your next printer, consider looking for a printer with a built-in WiFi option. There are multiple brands and models to choose from, and the WiFi option adds very little to the price of the printer, making the added convenience of wireless printing well within the price range of the most frugal users.