Wireless technology has freed us from the tyranny of cables, allowing us to use our laptops, netbooks, smart phones and tablets pretty much anywhere we want, while remaining connected to the Internet. Over the last few years Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technology has started appearing in printers too.
Wi-Fi enabled printers have a number of advantages, as once you connect your printer into your home network you can share it with the various devices in your home. It lets you print a business document from your bedroom, print a photo from your smart phone in the lounge, or print a birthday card made by your kids via the tablet in the kitchen.
Some printers also feature Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support lets you wirelessly print off snaps that you've taken on your mobile phone without first having to transfer them to your PC.
As Wi-Fi is finding its way into more and more phones, Bluetooth printing has become less popular. Nevertheless, Bluetooth support is still a useful feature if you've got one of the many phones that don't have Wi-Fi.
Printing from your iPad, iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, HTC, and Blackberry now your iPad shouldn’t be difficult. Think about it: mobile devices have built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, meaning that from the start its designers saw the device being part of a network, whether it was a home wireless setup or one that you connect to while visiting a café. The iPhone and iPad also come with a set of built-in applications—Mail, Photos, Notes, and Safari—that would, on a desktop, feature a Print option.
Most users probably will e-mail yourself the document, file, link, or note in question and then wait until you get to a Mac or PC, retrieve the e-mail, and either access the URL or print the attached photo or the contents of the message. Though simple, this is not an especially easy or elegant solution. Its biggest merit is that it works consistently and reliably, and almost ensures you don’t lose vital information.
Wireless printing can sound a bit technical, but it's usually quite easy to setup and use.
Wireless printing is hugely convenient, because it makes it easy to share your printer. All the main printer manufacturers now include models in their ranges that have Wi-Fi onboard.
Naturally, to set up wireless printing, you'll need to have a wireless network in your home or office.
There are three main ways to connect your printer into your Wi-Fi network: using Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), using the printer's onboard Wireless Setup Wizard, or by connecting your printer to your computer via USB and using the supplied software to configure the wireless connection.
The easiest option is to use WPS if your router and printer both support it. With WPS you don't have to know your network's name (or SSID as it's officially known) or password. Instead you simply select the WPS option on your printer via its control panel and then press the WPS button on your wireless router. The two devices will then automatically communicate with each other to establish the connection. Once the connection is set up, you just install the driver software from your printer's installation CD-ROM on all the PCs in the network that will be used for printing.
The second way to configure your printer is to use its wireless setup wizard. To use this you'll need to know your Wi-Fi network's name, as well as its password. The wizard will first perform a scan to find nearby networks. Then you select the name of your network from the list and enter its password. Once the password is entered correctly your printer should be available on your network. You'll still have to install the driver software for your printer, however, on all the computers that are going to be used for printing. After that job is complete, you can start printing from anywhere in your home.
The final option is to configure your printer by first connecting it to your computer via USB. Some people may find this option easier than the second method, as it can often be a bit fiddly to enter long Wi-Fi passwords using your printer's basic controls.
Before you actually connect your printer to your computer's USB port, make sure you've loaded the printer's installation software from the CD-ROM that it came with. It will guide you through the setup process and ask you whether you want to use a USB or Wi-Fi connection. Simply choose the Wi-Fi option, select your network name and enter its password. The software will send this data to the printer's memory and then install the drivers on your PC. Don't forget that you'll also have to install the printer drivers on all the PCs in your network that you want to be able to use for printing.
iPad, iPhone & iPod Printing
iPad iPhone & iPod uses AirPrint: AirPrint is a relatively new technology from Apple that has been integrated into all of the iOS devices that use version 4.2 or later of the operating system, including the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. It allows any of these products to print directly via Wi-Fi to any AirPrint-compatible printer without having to install any drivers or other software.
When you're viewing a webpage, document or picture on your iOS device's screen, using just a few taps of the screen you can send what you're viewing wirelessly to your printer and be holding a hard copy in your hands within a matter of seconds.
With AirPrint you can print from Safari, Mail, Photos, iWork and PDFs in iBook, and there are a number of third party iOS apps that support printing, too. If you choose to print a photo, AirPrint will even automatically select your printer's photo tray, if it has one. AirPrint is supported on an increasing number of printers.
AirPrint doesn’t really require any setup, because as long as your printer and iOS device are connected to the same network they will automatically find each other. All you have to do is select the Print option in iOS, tap the 'Select Printer' button and then choose your printer from the list. Next you simply select the number of copies you want and press print. That's it -- it really couldn't be easier.
Bluetooth is a wireless technology that is primarily designed for use in mobile devices, such as mobile phones. Unlike Wi-Fi, Bluetooth is designed to be used over short distances -- typically just a few metres. The benefit of Bluetooth is that it draws very little power, so it's kind to your phone's battery. It does, however, have some drawbacks, Bluetooth connections are typically much slower than Wi-Fi connections.
Bluetooth is usually used for transferring files between mobile devices as well as streaming audio from mobile phones to wireless headsets and headphones. For a while Bluetooth was also a popular technology for wireless printing, especially for printing photos from mobile phones.
As most smart phones now come with Wi-Fi onboard, Bluetooth's popularity is waning, and as a result it's now only found on a small number of printers, and often then only as an add-on.
Before you can print via Bluetooth you first have to setup an initial connection between your phone and printer using a process known as pairing. Usually this involves putting your printer into 'Discovery Mode' via its Bluetooth menu, and then starting a search for other Bluetooth devices on your phone. Once your phone finds the printer, you then have to enter a four-digit passcode to establish the connection.
After the pairing process is completed, your phone and printer will remember this passcode so you won't need to enter it again. When you want to print from your phone, you'll simply need to be within Bluetooth range of your printer, call up the photo you want to print and then choose the Bluetooth option. This is usually available in your phone's photo gallery, where you select 'Send To', or something similar. Then you select Bluetooth as the transfer method and choose your printer as the target device.
We all expect in the near future to bid farewell to cables and the ability to print wirelessly from our smartphones, iPad, iPhone, Samsung, HTC, Blackberry etc.
Few Other Things
For most people with a small business, a smartphone is where a lot of the action happens. Gone are the days when your phone was a device used solely for dialing a number and pressing the “Call” button. Today, your phone is your organizer, your assistant, your accountant (sometimes), and your travel agent. Because of all this, your smartphone hosts a tremendous amount of personal data which, in the wrong hands, can cause anything from a mild headache to a living nightmare. This is why smartphone security is more important than ever.
If you think that your smartphone is secure, you’re mistaken. The device in your hand is like any other computer. Viruses can infect it and applications can exploit some of its features to sabotage it. As a measure of security, you can get rid of this problem by using the following best practices:
Avoid Jailbreaking or Rooting Your Phone. In the Android world, it’s called “rooting.” In iOS, it’s “jailbreaking.” These words are used to describe a process by which you get root access to the phone operating system’s kernel and bypass some of its security parameters to get access to more system resources. Put more simply, iPhone users jailbreak their phones so that they can access applications without having to go through the App Store. A malicious application can use this kernel-level access to destroy your phone. By jailbreaking an iOS phone, you disable some of its advanced security features.
If you’re getting an application that gives you recipes, it shouldn’t be asking for access to your contact list, unless you specifically want to use a feature that involves sharing a recipe with your contacts. This is one of the many examples you should look out for when an application asks you for certain permissions. Don’t just grant access left and right. It’s imperative that you read what the application wants and determine whether you really want the app to have access to that.
Keep the Phone Up To Date. Don’t put off downloading updates. You know you’ll forget them, so why not just download them now and get it over with? Many updates tweak and fix several flaws on your phone that could open a backdoor for hackers. Make sure this doesn’t happen!
Don’t Use Unencrypted WiFi Networks. These types of WiFi networks are unsafe, as anyone who is connected can view the data you’re transmitting and receiving. You can tell a WiFi network is unencrypted if it doesn’t ask you for a key when you try to connect to it. These networks are not secure. If you still want to browse through such networks, get something like HotSpot Shield. This works for both iOS and Android.
Install Remote “Finder” Applications. A remote security solution will allow you to track your phone’s physical location on a map in case it’s stolen. Even more, these solutions often let you remotely lock or even wipe the phone. For Android, you can use “Locate My Droid.” People using iOS can use “Find My iPhone.”
When threats appear in all directions, a little bit of caution goes a long way! As long as you follow the above best practices, no one has a chance of ever getting a peek at your private data. Keeping your phone on lock-down not only protects you, but it also protects your business and reputation.