Your laptop and desktop computers are connected over a Wi-Fi network but you still need a physical USB cable to connect your wired printer to one of these computers.
If you find your existing setup a bit inconvenient and are looking for ways that will help you print documents from the same printer but wirelessly, here are some choices.
Turn any Wired Printer into a Wireless Network Printer
More new printers these days are network enabled so you can just attach them to your home network using the Ethernet port (or over Wi-Fi) and print from any other computer in the home network. However, if you are using an old USB based printer, you can use a wireless print server to turn that wired printer into a wireless one.
Wireless print servers are small devices (they look like mini routers) that have a USB port. You just have to connect the printer to this wireless print server using a regular USB cable and the printer will then become available to all other computers in your wireless network.
Here’s an overview of some of the most popular wireless print servers:
Netgear WGPS606 – This is both a wireless print server and a wired router. It has two USB ports so you may use the device for sharing up to two printers over the wireless network. The same print server can also help you connect four different computers to the network even if they are not fitted with wireless network adapters. Costs around $60.
Linksys Print Server – This wireless print server from Cisco makes it easy to access all the functions of your all-in-one printer over the wireless network. The Print Server can connect most USB based multifunction printers to your network using an Ethernet cable or Wireless-G. The print function works like any other print server but for scanning or copying, a user can request exclusive use of that function until his task is complete. Costs around $80.
HP Wireless Kit – If you like to turn your wired HP printer into a wireless one, the HP Wireless Printing Kit could be a good choice as it integrates fully with all features of your printer, including print, scan, and fax. It comes with a USB transmitter that you need to insert into the computer for wireless printing. The advantage is that you can print wirelessly even if you don’t have a wireless network. Requires Windows and costs around $75.
If you don’t have a wireless network at your place, you can consider getting a Bluetooth adapter for your printer. You need to attach the Bluetooth dongle to your computer and print wirelessly though the range will obviously be limited. Check your printer manufacturer’s site if they provide a Bluetooth adapter for your printer model.
Should You Buy a Wireless Print Server?
Before you invest in a wireless print server for your printer, consider this.
Today, most multifunction printers include wireless capabilities and can therefore connect directly to your wireless network without any additional hardware. Some of these printers are available in the $100 range. With this in mind, does it make more sense to purchase a new printer instead of buying a wireless print server for your existing printer?
Here are some possible scenarios:
- If your current printer is relatively new and you paid more than $100 for it, then it may be more economical for you to simply purchase a wireless print server instead of purchasing an entirely new printer with the same features.
- If a wireless printer in not available in your area, you can buy a regular USB based wired printer and get someone to ship you a wireless print server. This would incur less shipping costs than ordering a wireless printer.
- Some wireless print servers can be used as wireless routers. If you do not have a wireless router at your place, you can opt for a wireless print server as it will not only turn your printer wireless but you also get to setup a wireless home network.
Also see: Secure Your WiFi Home Network