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How Wireless Technology Changed Printing


Wonders and Woes of Wireless
Odds are good you won’t have to print a lot of documents from your smartphone. But when you need to, wireless setups can save the day.
Odds are good you won’t have to print a lot of documents from your smartphone. But when you need to, wireless setups can save the day.
©michal-rojek/iStpckphoto

Some third-party printing apps work flawlessly. Others are a headache to configure or print so slowly that they aren't worth using.

Although there are few standardized methods for printing from mobile devices, Apple's AirPrint system is one of the slicker methods. Using AirPrint, you can print directly from whatever app you're currently using to one of more than 1,000 compatible printer models. You'll still have to go through a router, but you won't have install app after app to satisfy the requirements of numerous manufacturers.

Considering all of the various options for wireless printing, it's no wonder that these printers are sometimes harder to configure than their wired brethren. Depending on the particular problem you're facing, troubleshooting a wireless issue can turn more than a few of your hairs gray.

Once your printer is working properly, you may have other concerns, such as speed and security. Typically, a WiFi printer won't slow down a wireless network. But if you have a lot of devices using the network and you routinely print data-heavy files, you may find that your Internet speeds aren't as fast as you like.

When it comes to security, printers aren't typically a major problem. Most printers don't have much built-in memory, so they aren't targets for viruses and other malware. However, if a virus strikes your computer, it could be programmed to print out gibberish that wastes paper.

Wireless printers certainly aren't new, but they aren't yet a completely refined technology, either. The fast evolution of wireless devices and mobile technologies makes it difficult for manufacturers and app developers to nail down a bulletproof wireless printing scheme. Still, once you've experienced the joys of printing from anywhere you like, you'll never want to be chained to a wired printer again.