Mobile Printing Tool Misses Point And Price
Category: Tablets, Smartphones, Peripherals
On the surface it sounds like a great idea: Install an application on one desktop computer and make any printer that computer has access to available to users of any iOS or Android device. That's the goal of EFI's PrintMe Mobile enterprise mobile printing solution. And I have to agree that it works exactly as stated. Once it was set up I was able to print from my iOS and Android devices--both phones and tablets--with absolutely no problem. But that's all that can be said. It is a printer utility and nothing more and does not, in any way, live up to the claim of being an "enterprise mobile printing" solution.
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Printers that I made available using the PrintMe dashboard showed up as available printers on all the mobile devices I tried and I was able to print successfully every time. Direct support for Airprint or any other print specific technology is not required on the target printer. If the Windows host computer can see it and has a driver installed for that printer, you can print to it.
For many applications that didn't offer a share or send to print option, I was able to print using the EFI Email to Print option, which, for example, let me print out travel itineraries from TripIt on my iPhone.
The PrintMe host software isn't an enterprise-ready application, however; it doesn't currently integrate with any sort of directory services or network security model. It supports only printers on the local subnet, so if your entire enterprise network isn't on the same subnet, you will need to install multiple hosts, one on each subnet that a mobile device might connect to--and, of course, license a printer on that subnet. The product cannot be managed throughout your enterprise through a single console, nor is there any sort of enterprise management or monitoring; you know if the service is down or if printers are offline only when the printing doesn't work.
Which brings up the license price; MSRP (the PrintMe Mobile host software is sold only through resellers and not direct) is $500 for a lifetime license, with one year of support and maintenance, for each printer. So if you were planning on mobile enabling printers for individual users throughout the enterprise, this solution gets very expensive very quickly.
If you are considering PrintMe because you are only a small shop without the need for many mobile-enabled printers you would be much better served by one of the easily available Android apps--or if you're an iOS shop, by the simple (and less expensive) solution of just buying an AirPrint compatible printer.
The software is also very limited. You can only print to a local printer, though you can email yourself files that can be printed immediately or printed when you return to the office, using the PrintMe Release to Print feature. Competing products such as PrinterShare offer services to allow you to print remotely back to your own office, using their service and a computer host on your network, or to print to local printers that are available on any Wi-Fi network or Bluetooth connection, including printing directly to those printers while you are in your office without needing to install any local host. This is also the biggest drawback to PrinterShare, as it requires that they have a driver for your printer in their driver pack or that your printer function with their generic driver.
PrinterShare is also an application that was originally developed for Android, where it gets excellent reviews; the iOS app is still in the growing-pains stage. However, at $4.99 for a full license on iOS and $12.99 on Android, it gives you some idea of what is available for people needing to print from their mobile devices and what people are willing to pay.
EFI's PrintMe Mobile is not a bad product, but EFI ordinarily provides high-end cloud-based printing services to customers doing serious commercial and corporate printing. At a price tag of $500 per printer, they really seem to be missing the point about integrating mobile consumer devices into the business environment. The application does what it claims, allowing supported mobile devices to print to any printer that a Windows computer has a driver for, but that's just about all it does. And for the price tag I would expect a far more complete mobile printing management and monitoring solution.