I have a client who was looking for a new printing solution for his home office. He had an old (but reliable) HP LaserJet 4L printer on LPT1, but he wanted to do some color output. He also has a massive Xerox laser fax machine across the room. He certainly didn’t want to end up with more printers than he already had.
Sounds like a perfect scenario for an all-in-one printer. But the trick was that he wanted the new printer to take the place of the fax machine, and it was across the room from where the PC was. Too far for USB connectivity, and no convenient way to connect it to Cat5. Never fear, there are a new generation of printers out now with built-in wireless networking.
After doing some research, I recommended the HP OfficeJet 7410 All-In-One. It was reasonably priced and was a virtual swiss army knife type of printer and it had built-in Wi-Fi. I’m partial to HP, although I’ve also had great experiences with some Brother products, which I’ll talk about soon. My own OfficeJet G85 has been a rock-solid printer and shows no signs of letting up.
So after a couple weeks, he called to tell me he picked one up and we scheduled a time for me to come over to set it up. I’d looked over the setup docs on the HP web site the night before, so I already had an idea of the steps involved. I removed the old Xerox fax machine and started the setup process for the OfficeJet 7410. After unpacking it, I put the ink carts and paper in and powered it up. It immediately saw the Wireless network; all I had to do was enter the 128-bit WEP key. That was the hardest part: trying to enter that 26-character hexadecimal string on a numeric keypad.
Once the WEP key was entered, I installed the software on his PC, and pretty soon, he had an operational multifunction printer on his network. When you think about it, how cool is it to print, fax, and scan without having any type of cable connection to the printer?
Naturally, all of these functions were a tad slower over the WLAN vs. being directly connected to the printer via USB, but it wasn’t a bad trade-off in the grand scheme of things. I advised him to keep the LaserJet around for lengthy black and white documents – it would always be cheaper per page on a laser.
I will likely be recommending this printer to some of my other customers. I have several that have multiple printers in their homes and home offices; a couple could open up printer museums if they wanted to.