Printing to My Home Printer Anywhere, Anytime

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Nov 3, 2011

Whenever I receive an e-mail on my iPhone that needs to be printed I mark it as unread and hope I remember to look at my e-mail that night on my computer. I occasionally forget to print these documents, so I decided to see if it was possible to print directly from my iPhone. As it turns out, there are a lot of options for people who wish to print from their smartphones, tablets, and other e-mail enabled devices, but some of these applications come from unexpected sources.

Businesses have a lot of mobile printing options from the big name companies, which have already developed solutions, but for mobile personal printing the market looks very different. Many of the major players have printers people can buy that are already equipped to be printed to from wireless mobile devices. These printers have not been advertised very extensively except for an HP ePrint ad that has been airing. Apple’s AirPrint has been put into iPad 2s and iPhones but this only works within the same wireless network and requires a new HP printer to be purchased. Most other recognized name brands also require the purchase of a new printer.

Having one of their newest mobile print enabled models is the only way to be able to use the printer apps in the iTunes store for Brother, Canon, Epson, HP, Kodak, Samsung or Sharp. Lexmark breaks the mold by making their app usable for all Lexmark wireless printers that are on the same network that your phone would have to be connected to. The apps I have been speaking of are for iPhones although many companies have similar apps for other web enabled devices.

Luckily, third parties have come in to make it possible to print from smartphones, tablets, and other e-mail enabled devices. Google and EuroSmartz are two major players when it comes to home wireless printing. EuroSmartz has eight apps available for the iPhone for printing to any printer. Google also allows printing to any printer, by using the Google cloud to print to a home printer from anywhere (getting a Google cloud account is free and is tied in with a Gmail account). Over the next few weeks I’ll be testing out solutions by HP, EuroSmartz and Google, as well as many other software makers that make it possible to print from an iPhone to a wired or wireless printer.

I have been fortunate enough to have access to an HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus and have been able to try it out. The product works very well for wireless printing from my iPhone, as well as an iPad, and I can print to it through wireless networks and over 3G. In order to print off 3G it’s necessary to create an e-mail address for the printer but that is simple enough by going to the ePrint center on the HP website. HP also has an additional feature that allows me to schedule prints so I can arrive in the morning to find recipes for the week, a daily crossword puzzle, or a range of other content already printed.

I will also be looking into the apps that allow people to print to their home printers, without needing to buy a new printer. I’ll check for which solutions work with wired and wireless printers and what software, if any, needs to be used. As printing becomes more technologically connected and easy to use, the conflicts between printing and new technology may turn into a discussion of how these two products actually enhance one another.

Elizabeth Corr is a student at Northeastern University and an intern at InfoTrends.

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