If you don’t have an AirPrint printer, a print server is a good hardware-based solution to make your existing printer appear to your iPad as an AirPrint printer. This solution is particularly attractive where you have one or more (expensive) existing printers that you want to use with AirPrint.
In this article, I’ll discuss two of your AirPrint printer server options, including one that is still relatively unknown. For a full rundown of your iPad printing options, see this website’s home page.
Lantronix produce a small print server called the Lantronix xPrintServer. The xPrintServer enables wireless printing from the native menus of your iPad or iPhone to one of more than 4,000 supported printers. Simply plug your supported printer into the xPrintServer, and connect the xPrintServer itself to your home network. Your printer now appears on your iPad or iPhone exactly the same as an AirPrint printer would.
Here’s a list of the current xPrintServer supported printers. If your printer isn’t in the list you can ask Lantronix to add support for it.
The Lantronix xPrintServer offers the following benefits:
- No need to purchase a new printer. This is a significant drawcard for those who have existing printers that are expensive and/or are already working well for them. There is no need to risk buying another printer that may not meet your expectations.
- You can use the native print menus of any apps that supports printing without messy work-arounds. In the eyes of your iPad, your existing printer will ‘behave’ exactly like an AirPrint printer.
- It works with USB printers. Many old legacy USB printers will work fine with the xPrintServer. Thus, there’s no need to upgrade to a Wi-Fi printer.
- You can attach multiple printers to the xPrintServer.
- You don’t need to print through your Mac or PC. Other print solutions require your Mac or PC to be switched on, awake, and have third-party software running in the background.
- No extra software to install on your Mac or PC.
- No additional apps to purchase or install on your iPad or iPhone.
- The Lantronix xPrintServer is not connected to your Mac or PC. This means you can make your printer portable if you can power your printer, the router and the xPrintServer. I show you how to do this in the section on mobile printing.
For most people, the major disadvantage of this solution will be the cost of the xPrintServer. At nearly $100 for the personal model, its almost the cost of an inexpensive AirPrint printer. However, if you already have a printer that functions really well as a part of your workflow, it may be worth considering the Lantronix xPrintServer.
Another consideration is that you still need to plug the xPrintServer into a router – it doesn’t connect wirelessly to your router. What this means is that if you have a wired printer, your xPrintServer, the router and printer all need to be in the same room.
The workflow looks like this:
The Lantronix xPrintServer is offered in two versions:
- Lantronix xPrintServer Home Edition ($100). Supports up to 2 printers connected by Ethernet or Wi-Fi and up to 8 or more USB printers connected by a USB hub.
- Lantronix xPrintServer Office Edition ($200). Supports an unlimited number of networked or Wi-Fi printers and up to 8 or more USB printers connected by a USB hub. The Office Edition offers advanced configuration, administration, and security features.
Most personal users will choose the Home edition. You can pick it up for a few dollars cheaper on Amazon.com. A video of the Lantronix xPrintServer in action is below and here are reviews of the product on Wired and also iLounge.
The HP 1200w NFC/Wireless Mobile Print Accessory – A Print Server for Selected Hewlett Packard Printers
Hewlett Packard manufactures a device that operates in a similar fashion to the xPrintServer although it only works with certain models of HP printers. This device is called the 1200w NFC/Wireless Mobile Print Accessory ($87) and it enables you to print directly from your iPad or iPhone to your printer without needing to attach the printer to a Wi-Fi router. Supported models of printer as at July 2014 are:
HP Color LaserJet Printer series: CP1025, CP1215, CP1515, CP1525, CP2025; HP Mono LaserJet Printer series: P1000, P1102, P1566, P1606, P2035, P2055; HP Color Multifunctional LaserJet Printer series: Pro 100 MFP, Pro M175 MFP, Pro M176 MFP, Pro M177 MFP, Pro M251 MFP, Pro M276 MFP, Pro M451 MFP, Pro M475 MFP, CM1312 MFP, CM1415 MFP, CM2320 MFP; HP Mono Multifunction LaserJet Printer series: Pro M401 MFP, Pro M425 MFP, M1120 MFP, M1132 MFP, M1212 MFP, M1319 MFP, M1536 MFP; HP Officejet Printer series: Officejet 100, Officejet 150.
You can find an up-to-date list of supported printers on the HP website. More details on the HP 1200w NFC/Wireless Mobile Print Accessory are here on the HP product support page. The installation video follows, and whilst a little dry, it does give you an idea of how the unit is set up.