Wireless Printer vs. Wireless Print Server

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Bulldog

Regular Contributor
Something I'm not clear on:

I have a wireless printer that works just fine as a standalone wireless printer. I could also connect my printer to a USB port on my router, which would make it ... a wireless printer. I could also connect my printer to a LAN port on my router, which would also make it a wireless printer.

What is the practical difference among these three methods of using my printer wirelessly? Are there pros and cons to the different methods?

If this has been previously discussed, I'll welcome a link.
 

ColinTaylor

Part of the Furniture
You've pretty much answered your own question. They're just different ways of achieving the same thing. Connecting the printer to the router by USB is only really useful if the printer doesn't have its own Ethernet or WiFi interface. Connecting the printer by WiFi may give you more flexibility in where you locate it and is more tidy (no need for an Ethernet cable).

Personally I would regard the USB option as the one that you would only use if you had no other choice. With Ethernet and WiFi you are sending data to the printer's own built-in print server. With USB you are sending data to the router's print server and hoping that its implementation is compatible with your printer's USB interface.
 

Klueless

Very Senior Member
I agree with @ColinTaylor
  • When I think of Ethernet;
    • I think of speed and stability.
    • I also think of the inconvenience of cabling and placement.
  • When I think of printing;
    • I think of low bandwidth needs
    • "batch" (e.g., not interactive, no need for an instant screen response). By the time I get up, pour a beer & walk to the printer it's done (whether it was wireless, Ethernet or direct connect).
  • When I think of wireless;
    • I think of convenience and flexibility
    • Speed and stability has really gotten way better (for many to most of us).
  • With that in mind I would go;
  1. Wireless (convenience!)
  2. Ethernet (contingency plan)
  3. USB (last resort)
 
Last edited:

dosborne

Very Senior Member
I could also connect my printer to a USB port on my router, which would make it ... a wireless printer.
Technically, it makes it a printer that is shared, not necessarily a wireless printer :)
I could also connect my printer to a LAN port on my router, which would also make it a wireless printer.
Technically, it makes it a wired printer :)
Are there pros and cons to the different methods?
Absolutely. Its all about giving people options. The hardware cost difference is minimal to the manufacturer and they only have to have 1 model, instead of 3 (wireless, USB, wired) or even more in the "old" days (serial, parallel). Speed (although usually not a big factor as there is much variability), convenience and fitting into different environments is what it is all about.

I would say USB is a throwback that replaced Serial and Parallel, I doubt it is used much. Wireless or wired depends on physical space and location, existing infrastructure etc. Whenever possible, I tend towards wired connections to potentially free up wireless bandwidth, ensure connectivity, etc, but in a home environment this isn't likely a big issue.
 

Bulldog

Regular Contributor
Thanks for everyone's replies, which I truly appreciate.

Personally, I prefer Ethernet wherever possible, but I'm one of those strange people who thinks it's fun to install wiring.

Is there any reason to think that the print server built in to my (ASUS RT-AC68) router is superior to the print server built in to my printer?
 

dosborne

Very Senior Member
Is there any reason to think that the print server built in to my (ASUS RT-AC68) router is superior to the print server built in to my printer?
No. The one in your printer is designed for your printer :)

It likely comes with all the appropriate software to configure and share it, but be sure to check the manufacturers web site for updates.
 

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