Long periods of boredom punctuated by brief periods of PRINT NOW!
March 8, 2012 12:26 PM   Subscribe

Need a recommendation for a wireless monochrome laser printer that absolutely, positively will print when it receives a print job without any human attention. It also needs to be happy living in a garage.

I volunteer with an emergency squad. I've been tasked to get a wireless printer to go in the ambulance garage.

The squad has a service that will create a print job with dispatch details every time there is a 911 dispatch and send it to a designated printer. The idea is that the wireless printer will sit in the ambulance garage and automagically serve up the dispatch prints to the crews as they walk by it to get into the ambulance to respond.

Desirable properties of the printer:

- Will print a page in under ~20 seconds from when the print job is received
- Toner cost not ridiculous
- small footprint
- no other functions besides printing (no scanning/copying/fax capabilities needed or desired)
- *** Absolutely, positively does not require any "assistance" in printing a page. *** When it receives a print job, it has to just print it without anyone needing to press any buttons or awaken it from "sleep mode". If it doesn't do this then it's just going to end up being a very ineffective space heater.
posted by de void to Computers & Internet (15 answers total)
When you say "absolutely, positively," how absolutely positively do you mean? Because nothing's perfect. Paper jams, toner runs out. You've got to have some backup system in place, because you can't let people's lives hang on a printer working perfectly all the time.
posted by jon1270 at 12:31 PM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: jon1270, the printer is a backup, not the primary source of the dispatch info, there is a separate radio/pager dispatch that is the primary. But if the printer isn't reliable, or requires someone to sit and babysit it for a few seconds to get it to print then it will quickly be forgotten.
posted by de void at 12:38 PM on March 8, 2012

Here's what I'd do:

I'd buy two of the exact same printer, configure them identically, and have at least 4 ink cartridges on hand at all times.

Every day, I'd check the printer on duty, make sure it was full of paper, had a decent amount of ink, etc, and if there was any problem at all, I'd swap it out for its clone.
posted by Oktober at 12:41 PM on March 8, 2012

My experience with printers with built-in wireless is that often the wireless can be flakey. If I were doing this project, I'd get a DD-WRT-based router with a USB port (the Asus WL-520gU has been rock solid for me and is pretty cheap) and hook up a nice printer via the USB port.

I agree with others, though, that your "has to print 100% of the time" requirement is an impossible standard. You can approach that, but as you get close to that standard, the costs go up exponentially. For example, I love my Samsung ML-2010 and it fulfills all of your requirements except the last one - it occasionally jams (in addition to running out of toner and paper, of course).
posted by Betelgeuse at 12:41 PM on March 8, 2012

Best answer: The Brother HL-2170W has always been the darling wireless printer of Ask MeFi, and I bought one on its recommendation. We print maybe once a week, and the printer is always ready to go when we do, no buttons to push or anything, and has had no problem staying connected to wireless.
posted by mendel at 12:44 PM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: b1t, even if someone can hack the dispatch print service protocol and the wireless router at the building still no one is going to roll just based on a printer in the garage. Radio/pagers are still what get people moving to the garage.
posted by de void at 12:44 PM on March 8, 2012

Response by poster: Didn't mean to say the printer can't ever have a fault/run out of paper/toner, that's acceptable, but it can NOT routinely require someone to futz with it in order to get it to print, assuming everything else is working correctly.

I'm mainly posing the question because I've been looking at printer reviews and many of them discuss sleep modes that can not be disabled and require someone to push a button to take the printer out of sleep mode.
posted by de void at 12:47 PM on March 8, 2012

Best answer: Yes, the Brother. Ours is freaking awesome. We print willy nilly - whenever and however much we want - and in the two years we've had it we've not had one single issue with it. The only time it has not printed was due to it being out of paper. But as soon as you put the paper in and push the button it prints outs. The toner - it came with half a cartridge of toner which took us a long time to go through. We're on our second toner now. Toner prices are decent on amazon.com.

No babysitting whatsoever. No sleep modes. Ours is constantly on and I print on it from various rooms in the house whenever the heck I feel like it without having to wake it up or mess with it. The printer is housed in a cabinet in the bedroom - doors closed and all. No futzing.

I love my printer very very much.
posted by Sassyfras at 12:50 PM on March 8, 2012

Mod note: Please stick to the question and take side debates to Memail. Thanks.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:47 PM on March 8, 2012

Another option would be to get a regular HP LaserJet (or another reliable wired printer) and a separate wireless print server.
posted by box at 4:07 PM on March 8, 2012

Best answer: I have a Brother HL-5370DW that has worked flawlessly for 6,427 pages. The only reason I upgraded from my old Brother HL-1270N was because my wife needed duplex printing. The new printer warms up from sleep in 8 seconds and the first page is finished within 20 seconds of hitting the print button. The only maintenance I do is a quick wipe down of the feed rollers with rubbing alcohol and a blast of compressed air each time I replace the toner cartridge.
posted by Max Camber at 7:20 PM on March 8, 2012

Best answer: If you're looking for a single-function, mono laser printer with wireless, you basically have a choice between the Brother 2270 (the 2170 is the discontinued, predecessor model) and the HP 1102. I thought that Canon was coming out with a model with comparable specs, but I can't seem to find it. Anyways, you probably can't go wrong with the Brother. It's the number one selling laser printer on Amazon.

It does appear to have a sleep mode but: a) it's supposed to wake up automatically when receiving a print request, and b) you can configure the amount of time it waits before going to sleep.
posted by mhum at 9:19 PM on March 8, 2012

Best answer: nthing brother, ours restored my faith in printers
posted by mattoxic at 2:10 AM on March 9, 2012

Best answer: If got the HP 1102w and it works exactly as you have described. We've never had a failed print job or problems with a "sleep" mode.
posted by davey_darling at 5:24 AM on March 9, 2012

It does appear to have a sleep mode but: a) it's supposed to wake up automatically when receiving a print request

I will add: I use that sleep mode, and it does wake up as expected.

It's also hilarious when the cats walk over it and accidentally step on a button and it WHIRS TO LIFE. Well, people-hilarious. Not cat-hilarious at all.
posted by mendel at 7:55 PM on March 9, 2012

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