HP Wireless Direct print
Wireless connection between device and printer has been available for a good few years, but direct connection, which doesn’t require access to a router and a network, is a more recent innovation.
HP’s take on this technology is called Wireless Direct, and is provided on many of the company’s printers, from low-end, consumer inkjets to top of the range enterprise machines, like the LaserJet Enterprise flow MFP M880z.
When a device and printer are connected via Wireless Direct, a peer-to-peer network is established between the two, which is independent of any infrastructure network that may be available.
Wireless Direct requires an HP app to be installed on the device you want to print from. This ePrint app is a free download for Android devices, while iPhone and iPads can use AirPrint. AirPrint was co-developed by HP and Apple, to set-up and use a Wireless Direct link.
Once the Wireless Direct link has been established, there are two types of connection that may be available, depending on printer and device: Print only and Open. The Print only connection, as the name suggests, enables a one-way connection from the device to the printer, while the Open variant allows for two-way traffic, such as scanning from the multifunction machine to the device. It’s not possible for a device to link to the Internet via a Wireless Direct connection.
The advantages of Wireless Direct are mainly the convenience with which the owner of the device can connect to a wireless printer. Rather than needing access to the main network and being assigned a suitable username and password, the peer-to-peer network of Wireless Direct remains separate from a main infrastructure network, which therefore retains its established security.
The person with the device uses ePrint or AirPrint to search for available printers and then selects from a list before choosing the document to print. This is easy enough if there’s just one printer within range, but in, for example, a large open-plan office, where several printers of the same model are available, it can be confusing.
This is where Near Field Communication (NFC) comes in. This comparatively new technology uses RFID radio technology embedded in the cases of printer and device to ‘pair’ them temporarily.
A simple tap of the device on the printer couples the two together, so documents appear from the selected printer. NFC is only a selection mechanism; once the connection is made, printing takes place as normal, using Wireless Direct protocols.
Printers equipped with Wireless Direct can handle connections with up to five wireless devices at once and queue print jobs automatically. Devices printing via Wireless Direct can’t connect to a wireless infrastructure network simultaneously, so wireless printing via a router may be a better solution for regular wireless printing.
Even so, for providing print facilities to visitors in an office, for example, Wireless Direct is an easy-to-use technology. It offers a wireless print solution from a variety of mobile platforms, without compromising corporate security.
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