Government // Mobile & Wireless
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11/10/2010
04:41 PM
Lamont Wood
Lamont Wood
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Wireless Printers Going To Waste?

Of course, it's the Wi-Fi ports on those printers that are going to waste, meaning that the buyers paid extra for nothing. But there are reasons for that.

Of course, it's the Wi-Fi ports on those printers that are going to waste, meaning that the buyers paid extra for nothing. But there are reasons for that.The NPD Group, a market research firm that follows consumer behavior, has issued a press release noting that more than half of all printers sold through the U.S. retail channel have wireless ports, but nearly three-quarters of their users aren't taking advantage of them.

That is food for thought, as including a Wi-Fi port adds $50 to $100 to the purchase price of an SMB printer. Offhand I'd say that there are two reasons for the situation, one that the buyers should pay attention to, and one that the vendors should do something about.

The first is that you can have a wireless printer without paying extra for a Wi-Fi port as long as you have a networked printer and a wireless router. Your Wi-Fi laptop can reach the printer through the wireless router. In the meantime, everyone else on the network can also use that printer. Your laptop can use the same wireless router to reach the Internet. What's not to love? And where's the reason to get a wireless printer? Basically, the buyers in these cases probably thought they might need the wireless port, and later found they didn't.

Beyond that, there are legitimate reasons for wanting a wireless printer, and they speak to the issue that the vendors should be addressing. If you don't have a LAN and can't locate your printer within a few feet of your desktop, or you have a laptop that is roaming the site, than a wireless printer is the answer. But such a printer will also always have a wired interface, and if the choice is between using a wired or a wireless interface, you'll probably end up choosing one and forgetting the other. That is because either option requires a full installation of the printer driver, and that's a epic move you don't want to make lightly, involving watching the installation progress gauge stall for minutes at a time, leaving you wondering if the system has crashed.

It should not be that hard. You should be able to switch back and forth. Vendors, get to work.

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