Wireless printing: NFC and the Cloud explained

Author: Paul Wilkinson

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The modern office is a place of wireless connectivity and cloud computing. We increasingly rely on mobile technology including smartphones and tablets to help us connect with the world, and so require printers and other devices to provide us with the same flexibility.

Traditional printers that are networked via cables can often result in a messy tangle of wires in the corner of your office or home workspace. With a wireless printer you can eliminate this problem and improved productivity on the go.

Going wireless

The move towards mobile in all aspects of computing is obvious, so now is the time to get connected.

When looking to buy a new wireless printer for the home or office we are often bombarded with technical information and specifications. Between connecting via the Wi-Fi, and printing from the cloud or with NFC, it is difficult to understand whether one is a specification or the name of Britain’s next big boy band. So for help with choosing your next wireless device, here’s a jargon busting guide.

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Wi-Fi printing

Whilst many of us think of ‘wireless’ and ‘Wi-Fi as synonymous, they in fact describe two very different ways of accessing the internet. A wireless connection utilises a cellular network, enabling you to access the internet almost anywhere, whereas establishing a Wi-Fi connection requires you to use your computer, tablet or smartphone within range of a router.

Connected to your home or office Wi-Fi, a wireless printer is essentially a wireless form of a standard wired printer. Wireless devices connected to your Wi-Fi can print over the network making it easy to share a single printer with several devices.

Apple AirPrint

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Printers advertised as AirPrint compatible support wireless printing from your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Mac computer. AirPrint eliminates the need to install printer drivers on your mobile device and instead, provides you with a solution which lets you simply connect your device to your chosen wireless printer.

The great thing is that Apple devices will automatically detect AirPrint printers on the same network and will print without any further configuration. The downside to AirPrint is that it only supports Apple devices. Fortunately, for those using an Android device or Windows PC there is another solution

Google Cloud Print

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Google Cloud Print is Google’s answer to wireless mobile printing. Connecting much like AirPrint, Google Cloud Print requires you to associate your printer with a Google Account. Once created, you can then print via Google Cloud Print from almost any device, just by logging in.

Cloud Print is available for a number of different operating systems and can even be used to make your existing printer function as a Google Cloud Print printer.

ePrint, iPrint and other wireless printing solutions

Following wireless printing standards, most printer manufacturers have released their own wireless printing solutions. Simply download your chosen app from your mobile device’s app store (e.g. Apple’s App Store or Google Play). Once installed, you will be able to wirelessly print to one of the manufacturer’s printers, over your Wi-Fi network. Manufacturer apps only support their associated printers and not devices from other manufacturers.

If you have a Wi-Fi enabled printer that doesn’t support Apple AirPrint or Google Cloud Print, manufacturer apps will enable you to print wirelessly. This does however have some limitations. Similarly, if you have a Windows Phone device for which there is no Windows specific app, you can connect and print using a printer manufacturer app.  

NFC Printing

NFC-printingNFC or Near Field Communication Printing is short range wireless printing technology. NFC allows the transfer of data from one compatible device to another by simply touching/holding them close together.

A number of smartphones and tablets now feature NFC technology, which is why NFC printing is now a common place specification on wireless printers. Simply select the document you wish to print, hold your compatible device over the NFC-enabled printer and wait for the associated app to open up. Select print and then wait for your file to print. Voila!

Wi-Fi Direct

Wi-Fi Direct is one of the most misunderstood but amazing technologies. A relatively new standard from the Wi-Fi Alliance, Wi-Fi Direct enables users to share content without an internet connection. There are currently over 1,000 Wi-Fi Direct certified products including phones, printers, computers and more.

To establish a Wi-Fi Direct network you only need one of the participating devices to have the certification. For example, a Wi-Fi certified computer can connect and print to a Wi-Fi Direct certified printer by actively allowing the network to form. In this instance, this means you need to click ‘accept’ on your computer for printing to commence. Once the action is complete, the connection is closed.

Get connected with help from Printernet

Get your new wireless printer online at Printernet. Browse through a fantastic range of devices including NFC compatible, Google Cloud, AirPrint and Wi-Fi Direct printers. For help with finding the ideal printer for your home or office call Printernet on 01344 354944

Categories: Airprint & Cloudprint, Help & Advice Tags: ,

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