Published on November 27th, 2012 | by Greg0
xPrint Server Home: Print From Your iOS Device
We print quite a bit, usually from our Macs and PCs. But every so often, we want to print directly from our iPhone or iPad and our current printer doesn’t support Apple AirPrint. Many printers don’t, and there are workarounds- our office laser printer is network-connected, so we can email the document or photo to a PC and then send it along. But if we didn’t have other computers handy, we’d be in trouble. And for those who don’t want to have a bunch of intermediate steps, there is a solution that doesn’t require replacing your printer.
The answer: Lantronix and their xPrinterServer Home Edition. This is a device that solves a specific problem, and does it well- there aren’t a lot of bells and whistles or extra features. In fact, there aren’t any buttons at all on the unit itself- just an ethernet port, USB port, and power jack. Plug the fairly small, compact device directly into your router, and it finds your printer and serves as the go-between. There is some setup necessary, but mostly it works well, and a wide variety of printers are supported. Not everything though, and we definitely recommend checking the compatibility list before purchasing.
Also, you’ll need an open port on your router. We didn’t have one, in fact, so needed to grab an ethernet hub. The OSX install was simple, but our PC Windows machines we had to install Bonjour software. Configuration takes a few minutes, and there are a couple of tricky codes buried in the manual, but even a novice should be able to get through it with only a little bit of head-scratching.
The cost is a bit high, though, considering that some decent printers that support AirPrint are actually around the same cost. We have a few Epson printers handy, and some of their recent models that didn’t offer support initially now can handle AirPrinting if you download and update the firmware on the printer. The XP-800, which we’ll be posting on shortly, has it built-in. But if yours does not, and you need to print from an iOS device, now you can- with no apps or necessary. Under $100, and available widely now.
And check out the video below if you’re wondering why you might need this nifty gadget.