For years, weâve been faced with the same choices when shopping for a new printer. Laser or inkjet? Single-function or all-in-one printer? However over the last few years, most printers have incorporated some form of wireless connectivity and with this new feature comes a wealth of questions. What is it important to look out for when buying a wireless printer and what do you need to know? Wireless connectivity comes in a variety of forms which can be baffling when you donât know your NFC from your Wi-Fi, especially if you donât know what type of wireless you need and what it will be used for. We take a look at the different types of wireless connectivity available, as well as recommending some of the best wireless printers on the market right now.
Today, the most common type of wireless connectivity found in printers is Wi-Fi, which takes the place of an Ethernet cable or USB connectivity to connect your printer to your home (of office) wireless network. This allows you to use multiple computers or devices on the network to wirelessly access the printer. Using a wireless link means you can effectively place the printer anywhere in your home or office; youâre no longer limited to where a USB or Ethernet cable can reach. Wi-Fi networking support can be found in most home printers nowadays, but some laser printers designed for business use do charge extra to âadd-onâ Wi-Fi connectivity, so look out for this when choosing a printer.
AirPrint: iOS Device Printing
AirPrint, developed by Apple, allows you to print from Apple iOS devices such as iPads, iPhones and iPod Touch. AirPrint is seamless technology, which means you wonât need to download any special software or apps before using it. AirPrint support in printers enables your device to âfindâ the printer and start printing and AirPrint can also be used with Mac computers. You can get a list of AirPrint compatible printers from Apple - although a quick Google search will bring up a list of results. Remember that because the connection from device to printer is made over the Wi-Fi network, both devices must usually be on the same wireless network for printing to work.
Near Field Communications (NFC) - the future of wireless printing
Already many printer manufacturers are beginning to include NFC on printers. Itâs not strictly a wireless technology like the others listed here - its purpose is altogether different. NFC acts to authorise a link between your mobile device and the printer. Generally, NFC printers work by tapping your NFC-enabled mobile device against an âNFC-pickupâ spot on the printer. The two devices are then linked and depending on the way you have configured your printer, it will either display a document/image on the screen or open a print menu to set options. NFC is now available across a range of printers for both home and office use.
Falling out of fashion
There are other methods of connectivity which are not as popular as they once were. Take Bluetooth for instance. Once more popular than Wi-Fi, today only a few devices still support Bluetooth connectivity for direct-from-device printing. Bluetooth is most often found in mobile printers or dedicated photo printers.
Whilst it is similar to Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct allows you to print from any Wi-Fi enabled desktop or laptop without a router or access point. In effect, this means the device and printer create a âpeer-to-peerâ connection, so data isnât routed over your network. This could come in handy in situations where setting up a full Wi-Fi network isnât ideal, or if you need to allow guests to print in your office without providing them with network access. Printers with Wi-Fi Direct will also support traditional Wi-Fi, giving you some flexibility when it comes to connectivity.
Choosing the right wireless printer
All this information about wireless connectivity is all well and good, but how do you choose the best printer for your needs? As well as thinking about the type of connectivity you need, you should also consider the ink cartridge yield and cost per page, additional functions of the printer, what it will be used for and the cost of ink cartridges. Scouring online reviews and technical specifications can help you to make a decision, but make sure youâre using a reputable site such as Amazon or Ebuyer. When it comes to choosing a printer, check out ink cartridge prices on a site such as internet-ink.com where you can find out the price of official ink cartridges as well as check to see whether compatible cartridges are available for your printer - these often cost much less and could save you a whole lot of money in the long run. The latest range of NFC-enabled printers by Samsung, released in spring 2014, are a great bet for anyone looking for a printer for home or small office use. The Xpress M2880 series, which can print 28 pages per minute, features Wi-Fi Direct and NFC connectivity and this high-speed, multi-functional printer is worth every penny.
Armed with information about wireless printers and having carried out your research online, you should feel well-equipped to make a purchasing decision, wherever you buy your wireless printer from. Remember that cheaper isnât always better and budget printers can sometimes cost more over the years due to the higher cost of ink cartridges, so bear this in mind!
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