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Friday, April 22, 2005

Wireless Printers

HP Deskjet 450cbi Mobile Printer
HP Deskjet 450cbi Mobile Printer

By: Barry Shultz
There are some new and exciting technologies for printers that we will all be enjoying in the very near future. Actually the technology is available right now but many people do not understand it or know how to use it.

The technology that I will focus on here is IrDA and Bluetooth interfaces. Gone will be the wires which extends a lot of possibilities for placing your printer in your home or office.

IrDA is an acronym for Infrared Data Association. IR devices work by using infrared technology, and hence don't require any cables to connect them to the printer. Actually this is old technology revisited. It was used widely in TV remote controls. IrDA will be replaced by Bluetooth eventually because of it's restrictions. (continued...)

Using such printers, one can print directly from a mobile device, such as a PDA, cell phone or even a video camera, which supports an IrDA interface without the need of any cables or even a PC. The only shortcoming is the line of sight restriction. As the devices work using infrared rays, any obstacles between the communicating devices will block the signal.

Some HP printers with IrDA support are HP DeskJet 340, HP LaserJet 5MP, HP LaserJet 6MP, HP 2100M and HP4050N.

Bluetooth is another addition to the new interfaces available for printers. Bluetooth is a low-cost, low-power, wireless radio frequency technology that allows various devices to communicate with each other.

These devices operate in the 2.4 GHz ISM (industrial, scientific, medical) band. An advantage of Bluetooth over IrDA is that close proximity between the communicating devices is not required and distances of up to 40 feet are allowed. Also, Bluetooth does not suffer from any line of sight restrictions.

A fascinating aspect of Bluetooth-enabled devices is their ability to communicate with each other spontaneously when they come within each other's range. A Bluetooth-enabled cell phone can be configured so that it can automatically print out all its stored messages and photos using a Bluetooth printer as soon as you enter your office without any manual intervention.

Another advantage of using Bluetooth is its support for point-to-multipoint communications. This means a single printer can simultaneously connect to both your cell phone, as well as your computer and any other Bluetooth enabled device within its vicinity.

The HP 995c Bluetooth printer is one example of an inkjet printer with built-in Bluetooth support.

Here is an excerpt from a review of the HP 995c done by PC Magazine:

"We found we could print wirelessly from as far away as 40 feet. And we found no significant difference in output speed between printing via a USB connection and printing wirelessly with Bluetooth."

Bluetooth is still in its infancy but from what I've seen so far it looks like it will be the dominant wireless technology in the future.

Ambicom BlueTooth Wireless Printer Kit
Ambicom BlueTooth Wireless Printer Kit

Make Any USB Inkjet Printer BlueTooth Enabled for $59.99

Barry Shultz is the author of Atlascopy News, and President of Atlascopy, Inc. Atlascopy specialized in affordable alternatives to the high cost of printer supplies. Sign up for the Atlascopy Newsletter and get 10% coupons every week in your email. Go to Atlascopy to save a bundle on your printer and refilling supplies.