Can I make my non-wireless printer/scanner wireless?
January 26, 2010 5:42 PM   Subscribe

I have a Samsung SCX-4500 (not W) laser printer/scanner, a Linksys WRT54GS v7.0 router, and a 13" MacBook Pro. Is there a way (using DD-WRT or something else) that I can print and scan over my wireless network?
posted by joshuaconner to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You can get a print server, either wired (if the printer is close enough to plug it in to your WRT54GS), or wireless. That will let you print, but unfortunately scanning is pretty much impossible with these kinds of standard print servers.
posted by zsazsa at 5:53 PM on January 26, 2010

The printer's brand new - if I'm spending $50 for a print server, I kind of feel like I might as well just return it and spend an extra $100 for the SCX-4500W, which has wireless.
posted by joshuaconner at 6:23 PM on January 26, 2010

Google "USB over IP" there seem to be various solutions that might work, but I don't know about any of them.
posted by Good Brain at 6:23 PM on January 26, 2010

Printing over a network is pretty trivial, as networked things go. This is because there are well-known, standard protocols for the whole trip. This includes from the PC to the print server, and then from the print server to the printer itself. (Most network printers support some variety of IPP, SMB, or Novell printing over Ethernet, with PostScript, PDF, or PCL as the payload; most small printers support the USB Printer Class specification. Modern standalone print servers basically bridge between like the two, speaking "big printer" protocols on one side and "small printer" protocols on the other.*)

But ... scanning really isn't like that. Despite a few efforts over the years, there isn't a nice open "network scanning" stack like there is for network printing. At least not down at the low-cost end of the hardware spectrum. Most cheap scanners, and this includes the scanners built into MFP devices, are truly horrors of proprietary protocols. It would be nearly impossible to make a cheap little box that would plug into a USB scanner and "network enable" it, like you can get for printers, because unlike with printing, the box would have to speak 1,001 different protocols, for every damn series of scanner ever produced.

Slowly, this is changing — some higher-end MFP devices are implementing various "scan to PDF" features, and I think this will eventually trickle down to consumer stuff. You'll press a button, and what you'll get at the PC end will be a PDF ... no crummy drivers required. But I've yet to see a cheap device that does this, and that's what you'd need before you could share a bog-standard scanner over a network.

Scanners are basically where printers were in the late 80s ... if you want wireless scanning, you'd better buy a unit that does that out of the box, and comes with the appropriate software from the manufacturer.

* This 'big printer' / 'small printer' thing wasn't how print servers used to work; it used to be, they'd go from a network-printing protocol on one side to PostScript-over-parallel on the other, and their purpose was mostly to spool documents and feed them to the printer in an orderly fashion. But now most big printers have this stuff built in ... print servers are mostly used to share small printers that weren't designed for network use.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:38 PM on January 26, 2010

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