Experience with Wireless print servers?
March 24, 2006 7:20 AM   Subscribe

What is the expected printing speed for wirelessly connected printers? I hooked up a Trendnet usb to wireless printer server with my older Canon S600 USB printer. I use wep encryption on my network. I immediately noticed that the print job for one page color document take a quite a bit of time to start on the printer. I have not played around much yet, but when i tried printing a short word document from my laptop I was getting not enough memory errors. I am pretty sure it is not a laptop problem. When the printer was connected to the desktop PC i did not notice these problems of course.

So what should be level of expectation here ?

I am not sure Canon S600 supports USB 2.0

Is the encryption a big problem?

Even though the print server supports 802.11g, i have a 802.11b network.

I am also wondering what kind of experience people have with wireless printing with this kind of add on products ?
posted by flyby22 to Computers & Internet (3 answers total)
No specific info, but here's some thoughts:

* Modern printers are graphical devices. Printing involves converting a page into a image-like representation, and means what is sent to the printer is considerably bigger than just the raw text, or even a Word .doc file.

* Actual sustained throughput on wireless is nowhere near what the numbers might lead you to believe. 802.11g claims 54Mbps, 802.11b claims 11Mbps - sustained throughput, as in sending large continuous streams of data (like printing!), tops out at somewhere around 1/2 of that at best.

* When the printer was connected to the desktop, printed pages were converted (rendered) and buffered (spooled) locally. If you had your laptop on a LAN with the desktop, printing from the laptop would most likely render it locally but spool on the desktop. Printing through a wireless print server, the laptop is doing the same as the desktop - rendering and spooling locally. It's quite possible that, if light on memory, it's running out trying to do both tasks.

To answer your questions: Yes, it will be slower. I don't know if the S600 supports USB2. No, the encryption only adds a slight overhead, nothing noticeable. Your network will only run at 11Mbps, regardless of the ability of the wireless print spooler. USB1 supports up to 12Mbps transfer rate; you might get 5Mbps through 802.11b.

So the limiting factor is the speed of your wireless network, and your print times are likely to be about twice what they were before. Upgrading the network to all 802.11g devices should improve that, but it probably won't still be quite as fast as it was before.
posted by Pinback at 2:35 PM on March 24, 2006

Response by poster: Appreciate you taking the time to respond. I will try hooking the printer up directly with the desktop and set it as a shared printer. Then do a wireless job submit from the laptop just to get some comparative measure. Last time I tried it was long time ago. Dont remember how well it went.

I may end up returning or selling the print server if this thing gives better timing. I will probably also try it with another USB 2.0 printer that I need to set up, before I retutn it.
posted by flyby22 at 3:27 PM on March 24, 2006

Was originally thinking that your pre-print slowness was due to the server issuing a USB "wake up" when the request came in -- this may still be possible, but I found no evidence of it in the documentation.

What I did find in the documentation is that the print server -- at least the TrendNET sever that I found online -- is using LPR to transmit your jobs over TCP/IP. I haven't worked extensively with print servers, but my understanding is that this is a less efficient means to transmit print data in comparison with what you'd normally accomplish with a local connection, or even via a shared machine on the network.

I have my desktop printer shared over the network and print via wireless all the time -- definitely would encourage giving it a try!
posted by VulcanMike at 10:32 PM on March 24, 2006

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