Wireless printing for the jet set
The term "printer" usually brings to mind a bulky device that rests on our desk. Printer manufacturers have now developed cost-effective, lightweight and easily moveable printers for home users. This advancement, however, is not smart enough for portable devices -- smart phone, PDA and the like.
Corporate executives, who frequently travel to distant places, face trouble when it comes to printing their files. During travel people generally use handheld gadgets to prepare documents.
But the technical orientation of these machines does not give the users the freedom to select printers. That is why a specially-designed printer is needed to bring out hard copies of their documents. Handheld devices, however, run on scaled-down operating systems that, in many cases, do not have built-in printing capability.
Laptop is capable of directly printing a document, provided the user has access to a printer with the right driver. Another solution is sending the document to a networked printer or burning it on a compact disc.
Mobile printing is an altogether wireless solution that enables people to print files while on the move. The gizmo basically utilises wireless networking such as Bluetooth or 802.11 networking to communicate with the other device. Some technically backward devices use infrared signals to accomplish the task.
Mobile printing involves three things -- special software, wireless connectivity and printer. Utilising this stuff depends mostly on technical specification of the device. A laptop, for example, usually has plenty of memory and a range of applications that can create documents. Its operating system has built-in printing capability. So, for most laptop users, mobile printing simply involves connecting wirelessly to a printer via Bluetooth or WiFi.
Other devices such as smart phone and PDA have relatively low memory. They often use scaled-down versions of programs, and sometimes their operating systems don't include print capability at all.
If a person needs to print documents from a PDA or smart phone, they have to download printing software first, which efficiently processes documents so the print job does not crush the device's memory.
At present, several printing software -- namely, PrintBoy, PrintPocket CE, PrintAnyWhere -- are available for different portable devices. PrintBoy processes documents from PDAs and smart phones and routes them to available printers. Different versions of it support different handheld devices.
PrintPocket CE has been developed for Windows Mobile and allows people to print documents from Pocket Word, Pocket Excel, Pocket RTF and plain text formats. It does not support Windows Mobile 5.
PrintAnyWhere printing program works in a different way. It mostly works with BlackBerry and Treo devices. This program sends document to a fax machine, instead of a printer. This technique requires the user to insert a fax number. PrintAnyWhere translates documents into a fax-readable format.
Adding wireless printing capability to a printer can give liberty to print files from any location. Some printers nowadays have built-in Bluetooth or 802.11 receivers. A wireless print server -- Axis Communications 580 Print Plug or the HP Jetdirect ew2400 Wireless Print Server, for example -- can also make a printer wireless. Frequent travellers can choose a portable printer to serve their purpose. But they first have to ensure that the portable is compatible with the device and the software they need to use with mobile printer.
Edward Apurba Singha