Wireless Printers
April 19, 2005 7:27 PM   Subscribe

I need to buy a printer in a hurry. I would like a wireless printer, but I've never use one. I've also heard that you can get adapters for that will make printers wireless. Can anyone explain this to me and tell me what to look for when shopping?

I have a notebook with bluetooth, 2200bg, 802.11b/g. I've only used the wireless for internet usage so far. I don't understand how an "adapter" works with a printer and my notebook. I also need a multi-function printer under $200. I just don't know what to look for when shopping.

Could anyone explain all of this to a person who is admittedly tech-illiterate?

Printer recs are greatly appreciated.
posted by pinkkitty to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have no idea about wireless printers, but let me mention that if the wireless is done without encryption, anything you print can be seen by your neighbors.

Let me also mention that the standard wireless encryption is poor enough that it can be broken with relative ease by a determined attacker.

Let me further mention that if you're doing this for business, you may have legal responsibilities to ensure that sensitive documents you print cannot be captured "out of the air".

Sorry to be a wet blanket, but I'd hate to see you get burnt.
posted by orthogonality at 7:38 PM on April 19, 2005

I personally have enjoyed using Canon and HP printers. I have not enjoyed Epson and Lexmark, but that's just my personal experience.

It's always a nice little bonus if the color printer allows you to change out individual color cartridges instead of a single multi-color ink module.

Do you have any links to the adapters you're talking about? They probably work by acting as a network interface, then your computer prints to the printer using an IP address rather than a USB or parallel port. If you have OS X or Windows XP/2000, printer setup should be (fairly) painless. Most printers come with ample documentation. The adapter is probably a box with an antenna, a power cord, and a socket for the printer cable to attach to.

I personally wouldn't spend extra on a wireless printer (if they actually cost more... I haven't looked) since you're probably sitting right there already.
posted by odinsdream at 7:39 PM on April 19, 2005

I got an Epson free-with-rebate when I bought my last computer and I'm happy with it, it has separate cartridges for each color too. I print to it wirelessly through my airport express, I just plugged the printer into that and my computer auto detected it. Easy as pie. I have a Mac, it might be slightly more complicated on a pc but I don't think it'd be too hard.
posted by cali at 8:07 PM on April 19, 2005

You need a wireless print server, and a printer.

Here's the skinny on print servers. If you have questions after reading it, post them. I think it's a good layperson's introduction.

As far as printers go, I suggest the fatwallet forums.
posted by trharlan at 8:07 PM on April 19, 2005

you can use most usb printers wirelessly with the apple airport express, plus you can stream music from itunes to it as well. i have one and love it.
posted by hulette at 12:30 AM on April 20, 2005

I presume you already have a wireless access point. What it does is create a wireless network that your laptop joins. A printer adapter will be able to join that network and all components within the network will be able to talk to each other. Alternatively the adapter can create its own network and you'll switch between them using whatever software you use to connect to wireless normally. Don't worry, it's usually not hard to configure. The printer will then appear in Print dialogs as normal. (Oh, and the printer just plugs into the adapter like it would your computer)

Note that if you get a multifunction printer you probably won't be able to use the scanner wirelessly. Also I'd recommend against getting one with wireless built-in since you'll usually be forced to buy a high-end model to get it.

My brother recently bought one of these, and seems happy with it. Even if you use Windows, that and an AirPort Express may be your best option, because they're very easy to set up.

See also: The unofficial Airport Express printer compatibility list.
posted by cillit bang at 1:37 AM on April 20, 2005

I've used a parallel-to-wireless adapter from DLink with great success. Given that the adapter cost ~$20 I wouldn't pay any extra for a wireless printer.
posted by aramaic at 7:10 AM on April 20, 2005

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