In this article I take a quick look at routers for wireless printing from your iPad or iPhone.
The first thing to note is that it is not necessary to buy an expensive router in order to get the iPad printing job done. As long as your router supports a connection for printers, you’re good to go. While Apple no longer manufacture routers, if you have one of their old routers (or buy a refurbished model), including the AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme, and the Apple Time Capsule, they will work fine.
You might want something lightweight if you’re traveling.
If you have a Wi-Fi enabled printer, the TP-Link N300 Wireless Portable Nano Travel Router and the TP-Link AC750 Wireless Portable Nano Travel Router are popular choice for travelers, as is the (discontinued) Apple AirPort Express.
Be aware that most of these routers do need external power sources (even if only a portable battery in the case of the TP-LINK router). As a travel tech author, one of the best brands of portable external batteries I’ve found is Anker. Anker make quality products, at fair prices, and stand behind them with warranties that are generally in excess of industry norms. I have two Anker batteries that I travel with, one for more demanding situations (iPads, multiple rechargers, and so on) that would be perfect for powering a router, and one to top up my phone during the day for shorter trips.
Many portable wireless hotspots also known as ‘Mi-Fi‘ devices are capable of acting as a Wi-Fi router for iPad or iPhone. If you have a printer with wireless networking inbuilt, you connect both your iPad and printer to the wireless network created by the Mi-Fi and print through a third-party app such as PrintCentral Pro. (If its an AirPrint compatible printer you should also be able to print through any app that supports printing.)
Using Your iPhone as a Wi-Fi Router
Your iPhone can also be used as a router to print from your iPad to your Wi-Fi printer:
On your iPhone, turn on your Personal Hotspot. You’ll find it at: Settings > Personal Hotspot > On.
Next, in wireless network function on your printer control panel, locate the network created by your iPhone and enter the Wi-Fi password that is displayed on your iPhone. (You may need to refer to your printer instruction manual for the specific steps).
Finally, connect your iPad to the Wi-Fi network created by your iPhone. You should now be able to print to your printer using a third-party printing app. Also, you should be able to access the internet using your cellular data even though you are also connected to the printer via Wi-Fi.
Note that some phone carriers do not allow their customers to use their iPhone as a Personal Hotpot. Sometimes they require you to pay an additional fee or be on a particular rate plan in order to access the Personal Hotspot feature. Alternatively, phone carriers may decide to disable it for certain categories of subscribers, for example, those using prepaid-SIM cards. If you can’t see or access the Personal Hotspot feature, contact your phone carrier.
Netgear Routers: Netgear Genie
Netgear have developed a range of routers that enable any printer connected to their router to be made AirPrint compatible. That is, you can print from any app on your iPad or iPhone that supports printing as long your Mac or PC is switched on and the accompanying Genie software is running. This is a similar solution to that offered by handyPrint, Printopia, Presto and O’Print but is free for users of the specific Netgear routers.
Here’s a list of Netgear supported routers for printing from an iPad or iPhone. The Genie can be seen in all of its glory below.
A Router Replacement for Selected Hewlett Packard Model Printers
Certain models of Hewlett Packard printers can be connected to a device called the HP 1200w NFC/Wireless Mobile Print Accessory.
Be careful to read reviews of this product before purchasing as some users have found it does not meet their expectations. HP withdrew it from sale a while back, although you can find the HP 1200w NFC/Wireless Mobile Print Accessory at Amazon.com.
I include it on this website as it is a solution for the iPad printing problem, and some users have made it work for them.
The HP 1200w NFC/Wireless Mobile Print Accessory enables you to print directly from your iPad or iPhone to the HP supported printer without needing to attach the printer to a Wi-Fi router. This will make your HP printer a little more portable. The models of printer that are supported 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 can be found here on the HP product support page.
You may notice some of the printer models on this list, such as the Officejet 100 and Officejet 150, are very popular with road warriors, consultants, salespeople, tradesmen and others that want to print whilst away from home or the office. Given its importance (and complexity) I’ve written a very detailed post on mobile printing solutions for the iPad and iPhone. I encourage you to read it if that is an area of interest to you.
The installation video for the 1200W Mobile Print Accessory follows, and whilst a little dry, it does give you an idea of how the unit is set up.