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Ask the PCist - Is there such thing as Wireless Printing?

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this year LAist introduced "Ask the MACist" and now we give you... Ask the PCist!
by Andrew Solmssen - send your questions to pcist at bitboy dot com

I have a wireless laptop, and I'm tired of having to plug in my printer every time I want to print the sides for my commercial auditions. Is there anyway to print over the wireless connection?

You bet. What you need is called a wireless print server, and it will let you clip that annoying cable, and bonus, even share the printer with other computers! There are some choices for you here, so lets run them down. One important point is that many all-in-one units (copy,scan,fax, & print type machines) require a special print server because of the more complex communications required, so if you have something like an OfficeJet or similar, be sure that it's compatible with whatever solution you choose. Also, some really cheap printers are so dependent on the host computer for processing power that they can't function unless they are directly attached to a PC - these are sometimes called GDI printers, so be sure your printer has enough smarts to stand alone. In general, if the printer uses a standard printer language like Postscript or PCL, it should work fine.

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The first choice is a new printer that includes a wireless print server. Many Hewlett-Packard printers now do, and so do many other brands. The advantages here are mainly simplicity, you're guaranteed compatibility between the print server and the printer, and the software that comes with the printer will generally include a way to configure the print server easily, which can be a real timesaver. HP's units that include a wireless print server start around $135, which is a significant savings over buying a printer and a print server separately, especially if you're using a multi-function printer. One other bonus is that it's much neater - the only cable you need is the power cable for the printer.