AirPrint is nifty, but…

Since Apple enabled AirPrint in the latest iPad and iPhone updates, I’ve wanted to be able to use it. AirPrint currently only works with a few HP printers, though some software solutions can make printers shared by your Mac available too. Since I didn’t want to leave my Mac on all the time, and I wanted to replace my Lexmark all-in-one inkjet anyway, I got an HP 6500A Plus from Costco.

The printer hardware looks to be quite good and robust, though HP is always good with hardware. Software has been weak in the past, but the new HP drivers for Windows seem good (the Mac drivers still stink, but more on that in another post where I rant about lousy printer and scanner drivers).

After a quick firmware update, I tried AirPrint, but the iPad didn’t see the printer. I had made the dreadful mistake of hooking the printer to my wired network rather than wireless. Once I switched to wireless, AirPrint worked fine.

So what’s the problem? Printing and scanning over wireless are much slower than on a wired network (I have GigE everywhere in my house). And the printer can’t be on both at the same time. So if I want AirPrint, I can’t have good performance and vice versa.

It seems to me that broadcast is broadcast, so the printer should be just as discoverable on the wired network from my iPad as it is on the wireless bridged network. So it looks like the idea of AirPrint is good, but HP’s implementation is not so good.

Perhaps this will get fixed in an update, but I won’t hold my breath.

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