Most of you will no interest in this post. But I’m tossing it out there because, if you like me, want to print directly to a laser printer from an iPhone or an iPad this is going to be helpful.
When our daughter went to college a few months ago, she took our inkjet printer that had been hanging out on our Apple bonjour network and managing all our printer needs (mostly hers) for years. She really wanted to be able to print in color. And she printed enough that, in most cases, we drained the printer cartridges before they dried out. (Printer ink is already more expensive than gold by weight, and losing it to lack of use really bothers my Pennsylvania Dutch values.)
So in need of a new printer, my wife and I talked about what we wanted. We don’t print all that often. And we tend to print out things like directions to someone’s house, a recipe, a webpage that we want to share with someone who doesn’t have a computer. It works out to something like 15 pages a month at most. Buying a color inkjet would be a total waste of money. We decided to get an inexpensive laser printer. Toner doesn’t dry up. And the higher energy use is easily cheaper for spot printing than buying a new set of ink jet cartridges every 3 or 4 months (50 pages or so).
I had an old Brother printer that worked a treat for years. But when I thought about picking up another one of those, I hesitated after I thought harder about how we actually use the network at home these days. It’s relatively rare for us to sit down at one of our laptops and surf the web or read email. I tend to only use mine in the morning when I’m plowing through a long list of unread emails, or when I’m writing something longer than a couple of sentences. We’ve ended up using our iPhones or an iPad much more commonly when at home. They’re just way more convenient to read articles, newspapers, books, etc. So if possible, when I’m putting a printer on the network, it would be great to get one that would print directly from a phone or tablet.
Apple has a service called “AirPrint” that does just that. But at the moment (and for the last year) the only printers that will work with it are the ones from HP. Okay. So if you look at HP’s printer line up, their inexpensive laser printer is the P1102w, which according to online reports will work as an AirPrint device if you update the firmware. So I went off to Amazon, ordered one and yesterday it was delivered.
And then the fun started.
We have two Lion laptops and one Snow Leopard mini in the house. But none of them would work to download and update the firmware on the laser printer. After trying all the tricks suggested online, muttering under my breath, I gave up. I took the printer into the Cathedral office and used one of the windows computers. First you need to download the drivers. Once the printer is working, attached to the computer via USB, you can download the firmware updater program directly from HP’s driver page (for the P1102w), run the program and update the firmware.
It would be nice if the program, having run, would tell you what firmware you now have installed. But that’s not the HP way apparently. It’s possible to print out a configuration page that will tell you that information, but it’s not readily apparent (to me at least) how to do that on a windows computer. So I ran the program twice, had it report it didn’t need to run the second time, and took that as confirmation that something had changed.
I brought the printer home with me. More fun ensued.
It turns out that AirPrint will only work if the printer is in stand-alone wifi mode. So you need to join the printer to your network. But HP’s macintosh software doesn’t allow you to do that. It’s not the HP way apparently.
So. You download the Mac drivers from the HP page for the printer. Install them. Then connect the printer to a computer via an USB cable. Not to your AirPort. To the computer. Go to the Printer applet under system settings. Install the printer as a USB printer. Go to Options from the info page on the printer properties. Choose Utility. And a nice little web server on the printer will fire up and you’re talking to the printer directly.
If you’re on Snow Leopard that is. On Lion the little web server thing fails.
So, taking the printer into the room with the Snow Leopard machine, installing the drivers, opening the web server on the printer, I’m able to finally access the network properties.
On the third tab from the left, Networking, there’s a page that will let you choose your network, specify the correct password and join. When the join is successful, the blue wifi light will light solidly. When I did it initially, it wouldn’t and didn’t.
Took me a little while to figure out the problem. You must have the AirPort working in B/G compatibility mode. I had mine running in N only. Won’t work with the HP printer. Not the HP way.
Once I downgraded the network, the light lit and I thought I was in business.
But no. Not yet.
So, the final step is to undo all that you have done to get the printer to talk to the computers directly. You need to remove the printer from the USB connection to the Snow Leopard computer. You need to remove the printer from the printer list under System Resources. You must *not* connect the printer directly via USB to the AirPort (That’s not the Apple way apparently.). Having done all that…
The printer is recognized by the iPhone and iPad and you can print! Go back to the System Resources on your computers and re-add the printer, which will now be seen as a Bonjour printer.
And it all works. Sigh.
Nice thing is that the web server is now accessible via Lion when the printer is accessed as a wifi bonjour printer. And the web pages are a ton faster than they were via USB.
So the key is… update the firmware with a windows machine. Access the internal web server via USB connections via the installed printer driver on a non-Leopard machine. Join the wireless network that is working in B/G compatibility mode. Remove the drivers from the computers. Reinstall the drivers, now as a wireless printer.
(You’re welcome. Heh.)