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.
Author's Note: How Wireless Technology Changed Printing
I can remember the days — long ago — when it took several hours to print 40 or 50 pages of double-spaced text on a dot-matrix printer. Not only were the printers themselves slow, but the multi-pin cables didn't transfer data fast enough, either. Contrast that with today, when we can print full-color glossy prints from our phones without leaving the couch. Although wireless printers sometime take more babysitting, their benefits and speed far outpace the limitations of the past.
More Great Links
- Brother International. "Near Field Communication (NFC) Printing and Scanning." (Aug. 14, 2015) http://www.brother-usa.com/connect/mobile/nfc.aspx
- Jacobi, Jon L. and Riofrio, Melissa. "How to Install a Wireless Printer." PC World. Dec. 1, 2010. (Aug. 14, 2015) http://www.pcworld.com/article/212204/how_to_install_a_wireless_printer.html
- Hoffman, Tony and Ragaza, Laarni Almendrala. "The 10 Best Wireless Printers of 2015." PC Mag. May 19, 2015. (Aug. 14, 2015) http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2379649,00.asp
- HP. "Wireless Printing Center FAQ." (Aug. 14, 2015) http://www8.hp.com/us/en/campaigns/wireless-printing-center/faq.html
- Sacco, Al. "Mobile Printing via NFC: A Novelty with Little Real Value." CIO. Dec. 6, 2013. (Aug. 14, 2015) http://www.cio.com/article/2380384/infrastructure/mobile-printing-via-nfc--a-novelty-with-little-real-value.html
- Spector, Lincoln. "Answer Line: How to Print from Android." PC World. Feb. 28, 2013. (Aug. 14, 2015) http://www.pcworld.com/article/2027751/answer-line-how-to-print-from-android.html
- Stone, David M. "How to Connect a Wireless Printer." PC Mag. May 20, 2015. (Aug. 14, 2015) http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2411967,00.asp
- Whittaker, Zack. "Thousands of Office Printers Hit by 'Gibberish' Malware." ZDNet. June 22, 2012. (Aug. 14, 2015) http://www.zdnet.com/article/thousands-of-office-printers-hit-by-gibberish-malware/