Help me get a Mac newbie printing
September 26, 2007 10:07 AM   Subscribe

Looking for an inexpensive wireless printing solution for Mac.

(Windows guy trying to help out a friend here. My Mac experience is fairly old. His son bought him a Mac notebook. He asked me to help him get up and running.)

He has a new Powerbook (or whatever they are called now) and a Netgear wireless router connecting to a cable modem. That part's easy. He wants to buy an inexpensive laser printer. I suggested an HP 1022 (which claims OS X compatibility). Unfortunately, this printer would have to be plugged directly into the Mac's USB port. Ideal situation is wireless sharing of the printer. So...

1. Is there a print server that will work with Mac that will plug into the ethernet port of the router?

2. What about the 1022n printer that has built-in ethernet (for about $100 more than the 1022).

3. Other options? Need to keep this under a few hundred bucks.

Thanks in advance for the help from the Mac gurus.
posted by AstroGuy to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I am happy with the Brother HL-2070N. Plugs into the ethernet port of the wireless router, works with the Mac and costs less than $150.
posted by flickroad at 10:18 AM on September 26, 2007

The networking adapters made by printer companies are invariably way overpriced.

You can get a print server for about $50 from Netgear/Linksys/D-Link. You can even get a wireless print server that goes wifi>USB. More elegantly, you can get a combo wifi router/print server for about the same amount, so he'd wind up replacing his existing wireless router. These often require you to access the printer via SMB—it works fine once set up, but the setup process is not very self-explanatory. You'd launch Printer Setup Utility, click Add, click on IP Printers in the printer browser, then on More Printers… then select Windows Printing, which should find the print server.

We are also just starting to see wireless USB devices (which would bypass all this hoohah), but that would require an extra dongle on his laptop.
posted by adamrice at 10:26 AM on September 26, 2007

If you go the route of replacing the router, then I'd point out that I've had exceeding good experiences with the Airport Express. Just works. The Airport Extreme does the same thing, but is a little pricier.

If your friend isnt technically inclined, then the Airport solutions are likely a better bet than something from Linksys/D-Link/Netgear - it should be a heck of a lot easier to configure/maintain.
posted by jsoh at 10:42 AM on September 26, 2007

Seconding the Airport Extreme - he also gets the benefit of USB disk sharing and 802.11n. And it's very easy to configure with his macbook.
posted by nightwood at 10:57 AM on September 26, 2007

Another option: walking the laptop over to the printer when you want to print. Given how cheap low-end laser printers are lately, the costs of a print server might dwarf the cost of the printer for negligible benefit (you'll need to walk to the printer to pick up the paper, right?)
posted by deeaytch at 11:15 AM on September 26, 2007

Airport Express. In addition to the router, not as a replacement.
posted by trevyn at 11:49 AM on September 26, 2007

Yeah, just plug the printer into a $99 airport express, run an ethernet cable from the airport express to the netgear router, and you're done. You can even stream music if you want to.

I have an HP 1020 printer (close but not exactly your 1022) and this works fine.
posted by neustile at 12:09 PM on September 26, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the feedback so far. A few responses:

Both the laptop and the router are brand new (but non-returnable at this point) so any solution would preferably incorporate the existing router. (It's a Rangemax Next WNRB834B, that is draft-802.11n. I had nothing to do with the decision to purchase this--happened before I got involved.)

I've already suggested the "plug in USB when you want to print" thing and he's OK with that. I'm just trying to come up with a more elegant (but affordable) solution to unshackle the printer from the laptop. This would preferable since his SO may be getting her own computer (which could be Mac or PC) in the future and would like to share the intertubes and printer.

For lasers, I would only recommend HP. Personal bias of mine that comes from being a tech in a previous life. The HP 1022/1022n shares the print engine with the Laserjet 3030 I have and have been very happy with.

I was hoping someone here would have the 1022n connected via ethernet to a Mac and tell me that it works just fine. Anyone? The 1022 seems popular with Macs based on the quick research I've already done. I've seen the Airport mentioned as well. A 1022 with an Airport may be the ideal solution. I just thought the 1022n (if it works) may be simpler since there's one fewer piece of equipment, but the price works out to around $300 either way.

Thanks again for any further comments.
posted by AstroGuy at 12:56 PM on September 26, 2007

Airport Express is a good option. You can run this as a client in your existing wifi network and share the printer. I'm doing this and it works well except that some of the maintenance functions will only work when directly connected (for a Canon Inkjet, anyway).

Also, install Bonjour for Windows on any windows PCs and you're laughing.
posted by dantodd at 3:19 PM on September 26, 2007

Best answer: Just to close this out for anyone finding this in the future: He purchased the 1022n.

As a side note: The Netgear router turned out to be defective, so I told him to get a Linksys WRT54G. This had nothing to do with the printer. I discovered this before he even purchased the printer.

I set the router, plugged the printer in via an ethernet cable to a port on the router, installed the driver on his Macbook and it worked. Oops, sorry Mac folks, I meant "it just works."

I even loaded the Windows driver on my Vista laptop and it worked wireless from there.

So I give the 1022n my seal of approval.
posted by AstroGuy at 7:05 PM on November 27, 2007

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