Software Development investigate

How to set up printing from tablets and phones

More and more user time is spent nowadays with mobile devices, but the lingering need to print remains for many.

A few weeks ago, Ed Bott on our sister site ZDNet reviewed his first two months with the Surface RT. He brought up a problem that he had with the device: Lack of support for his printer. I experienced the same problem with my home printer. Considering that the printer is now around five years old, I chose to solve it by purchasing a new printer.

The opportunity to upgrade my printer meant I could also look for some of the newer features available, such as direct printing from various memory cards and Wi-Fi connectivity, as well as any improvements in resolution and speed.

(Image: Tony McSherry/TechRepublic)

My first step was eBay, and after sifting through a large number of printers, I decided on the HP Photosmart 7510 e All in One Printer for around AU$150 delivered. I've had good experiences with a range of HP printers, but any new printer should offer much the same features. This gave me a scanner/photocopier/printer that would connect to my Wireless-n network. The printer provides around 33ppm for black and colour in draft mode, and around 13.5ppm in black and 9ppm in colour for normal printing. Colour resolution on photographic paper is 9600x2400dpi, which is great for producing photographs, and will also do double-sided printing. It also provides HP ePrint and Apple AirPrint for mobile devices. It uses a five-cartridge ink system that means you only have to replace the cartridge that is low.

While the printer is new, it's not the latest model, with a newer version on sale at HP — but I saw no need to get the latest, as it offers only minor improvements, and the price and free delivery from eBay were also tempting.

(Image: Tony McSherry/TechRepublic)

Like any modern device, the HP 7510 has a touchscreen control panel and a 40-page manual. Actually that's a five-page English manual with only the first page dealing with setup. You simply unpack the printer, remove the shipping tape and turn it on. Setup actually happens on the touch display panel. The display will step you through the setup process, beginning with installing cartridges. There is a very useful animation available for each step, which will show you how each action is performed.

Once the printer is up and working, and the test pages have appeared, the touch panel suggests that you may like to install the HP printer software on your PC from the accompanying CD to set up Wireless connectivity. I hadn't connected the printer to any PC, so I decided to just install the Wi-Fi manually and the printer quickly identified my network, and I simply entered the password. I could now place the printer anywhere in the house without the need to connect it to a PC.

(Image: Tony McSherry/TechRepublic)

The next stage was selecting the printer on my various windows 8 PCs and tablets. When I chose PC Settings under the usual Settings charm, I selected Devices and Add a Device. The HP Printer appeared in the Device list and I selected it — that was it. Windows 7 correctly identified a wireless printer when I used Add a printer from the control panel, but then forced me to select the manufacturer and printer type from a list of available drivers — I prefer the Windows 8 method.

HP also offers ePrint on its website to allow you to print from mobile devices, so I registered and entered my Printer code (that I printed from the ePrint icon on the display) and was given an email address, which you can change to something more meaningful if you wish. You then select whether you want the address to be available to anyone or a limited list of senders. I recommend the latter, as I don't know what HP's spam filter is like.

I then went to my HTC Windows 8x phone and selected a document in Word from SkyDrive (one of my earlier columns with embedded images) and sent it to my ePrint email address. Around a minute later, it came out of the printer. With PCs, tablets, and cloud storage available, I can't really see a use for the feature personally, but for those who mainly use their phones for social and business purposes, it might be extremely useful.

My immediate success with ePrint was followed by a problem: Any image I sent to the email address automatically selected the Photo tray in the printer, which was unfortunately empty. Setting the default preferences to only the Main tray didn't help, so I had no luck printing the images on A4 standard paper from the email address. A quick search of the help forums showed others with this problem and no apparent solution, and I can only hope HP addresses this "feature" in the future.

I was happy with print quality, colour reproduction, and speed, so I went to Windows Store on the desktop PC and installed HP Printer Control and the HP Scan and Capture apps. The Printer Control is mainly a support page, but you can also start Scan and Capture from it.

(Image: Tony McSherry/TechRepublic)

Starting Scan and Capture resulted in a message telling me to select a device. Upon entering device selection, the automatic search found nothing. I then chose Manual and entered the IP address for the printer (available in the Printer Control when you touch the image of the printer). Windows then found the device and identified it as an HP Photosmart printer.

I placed a photograph in the scanner, clicked the Capture Photos icon on my desktop, and the image appeared. I repeated the same process with the Surface RT with the same result — although Scan and Capture would also let me use the tablet's cameras as a device, as well. The Capture Document feature will save your scanned documents as PDF files.

I now have a printer/scanner photocopier that I can place anywhere in the house and is accessible from all our devices. I didn't have to hunt through any manuals, connect cables, or install any software from the CD. Windows 8 found the printer automatically and was then available from apps with the Devices charm. HP's Windows 8 apps from the store make the process of scanning photos and capturing documents easy, and it's a good incentive to me to start digitising some old photos before they fade away.

I'm now pleased that my Surface RT didn't support my old printer.

About

Tony is the owner and managing director of Microcraft eLearning and is one of the creators of the AUTHOR eLearning Development System.

16 comments
slockwood252
slockwood252

When are we going to be able to just sync everything easily? I know that most PCs require drivers to use printers, but what if one day I need a few hundred copies of something all in binders, could I just walk in with my tablet into a printer store and have my device sync with their system? Boom. My friend and I were talking about this while he was searching for printing in Vancouver and it would be feasible if people carried tablets were like people carrying smartphones. Heck this could even apply to smartphones.

BaconSmoothie4-2
BaconSmoothie4-2

- Article title definitely needs to change. - The guy that used the term "idiot box ", I hope the writer took that personally . - Unfortunately no cloud or wireless internet in our small rental business until we make our first million. I was hoping for an explanation of a scenario that involve some type of wireless Gizmodo connected to your vintage printer (ie. 3 month old Xerox 6505 color laser, lacking Wireless ) make it wireless and then a local solution for printing across the room not printing across the planet. I suppose my needs are just too simple and basic .

blackers
blackers

I thought the article was interesting but somewhat misleading. "How to set up printing from tablets and phones" and the first thing I do is get a new printer, chuck the old all because I got a new phone that wants to dictate my life. What's wrong with this picture? I am all for innovation but when I have to build a new house because a particular paint type/color I like would not work on/adhere to my current (in need of painting) home, someone needs to reset the idiot box. But that's exactly what is being done. What's wrong with getting a functional phone/device that FITS your office/home/lifestyle instead of getting an office/home/lifestyle that fits your phone/device? OK so how about someone creating an APP/API that will do the printer compatibility/conversion instead of buying a printer just cause new phone doesn't like the old one? Granted there is a limit to backward compatibility as it cannot be supported forever. But I think we are allowing technology to distort our sensibilities and rationalization while manufacturers oil the hamster wheels and take us to the cleaners. Kudos to those using cloud to solve this issue. a mon avis

Laurentian Enterprises
Laurentian Enterprises

I too have setup my old color laser (which I certainly can't afford to replace) as a google cloud printer. I now can printer from my two android tablets and android phone. It probably would work from a MS surface tablet as well. I also wanted to comment that although I have used HP printers for years and had good luck, I wouldn't buy one now. HP printers seem to have many little gotchas (like things that don't work right and the failure of HP to provide updated drivers and firmware to fix things and keep up with new technology) over the last couple of years. Their support absolutely sucks (not just my opinion as many of my tech friends feel the same). It seems a bit strange that this article seems to be promoting HP and buying new equipment instead of finding a solution to the problem. Anybody can solve problems by throwing money at it, but why bother writing an article about buying a new printer to fix a problem which could have been solved at no cost?

NickP2012
NickP2012

i have a brother printer, I went to the app and found a app for my printer and it works fine. The only thing is I have to upload my picture and papers on to the app and print from there

guy
guy

Windows Windows Windows. How about trying this from an Andriod tablet or phone please.

eoschlotz
eoschlotz

The author is a Microsoft "guy" and is representing that POV. It only applies to about 1% of us out in the world, though. The note by LedLincoln is much more useful to me.

rickgtoc_z
rickgtoc_z

Our old Brother MFC was starting to show its age, with mysterious non-jams and other intermittent problems. Stil, not to bad for a 9 year old Print/Scan/Copy/Fax device with USB and wired networking that was purchased new for US$100 after rebates. Decided to replace it with another Brother MFC. For US$90 during the 2012 holiday sales, I bought a Print/Scan/Copy/Fax MFC with wired and WiFi networking, PrintBridge, SD slots, web print, duplex printing and separate photo and plain paper trays. AND I found Brother's iPrint&Scan app for Droid that lets me print directly from my Android tablet and phone, without depending on "the cloud" or a new e-mail address. It's not quite as intuitive as printing from a personal computer. The app runs as a shell from which one selects what type of doc/pic/wep page to print. And there's a limit on doc size for pdf's. But it meets our needs at home for a quick dump of the typical document or web page from our phones or tablet. I used to be a huge proponent of HP's printers, and until recently had a LaserJet 4+ that I still would rate as one of the greatest PC printers of all time. The 1994 vintage LJ was still working, but it didn't print color, and I no longer had the home office real estate or big document printing needs to justify keeping it. Newer HP inkjets have seemed big, a bit clunky, and expensive to supply with ink.

TRgscratch
TRgscratch

I'm glad the author had a good experience. there are many (many) threads on the Surface forum about getting printing to work. My experience is mixed, at best.

houskampdesign
houskampdesign

Thanks for the article. When I bought an iPhone I discovered that I could not get to my several printers without using Apple software, and that software proceeded to screw up my laptop. Had to pay to get it removed! Now I E-Mail photos to myself, store, print, etc. I would as soon E-Mail to an address that printed directly, especially for photos and stuff that I don't need to keep on file.

Computer Dave
Computer Dave

That's not the 1st place I look for a new printer. My 1st step is to become familiar with the current/recent offerings from various manufacturers like HP, Epson, etc. I prefer to know if the product I'm looking for has the features I need. I've even been known to search for known issues with something I'm ready to purchase. What can I say: I don't like bad surprises. Speaking of bad surprises, when did ink cartridges start having expiration dates? It's bad enough that they aren't (easily) refillable and that they can dry-out from lack of use. But now I have to worry about using the contents before some unknown date. WTF is up with that? Do all the inkjet makers do this or is it just HP?

richard.bennett
richard.bennett

While I enoyed your article, you should have included a disclaimer that stated Microsoft sponsored it. Seeing that Windows has such a small percentage of the phone and tablet market, it would have been helpful to include Android at the very minimum.

a.portman
a.portman

I have been running Win8 desktop for about a month now. I love it except one thing. It takes two hours to print anything. I have an HP L7580. To print means: 1. Uninstall the print drivers and printers with the print management tool. 2. Uninstall the print drivers with the HP download cleanup tool (disconnect printer + reboot). 3. Remove HP crapware with Revo Uninstaller (reboot) 4. Install Printer with either the Win 8 discover printer or the HP download. 4. Print from Word. Not more than three documents. Do not print from PDF. 5. Pray the third one prints all the way. 6. Give pages with funny characters from the print driver crashing to the children to color on. 7. Put documents in dropbox and make note to print at work in the morning. Anyone from HP here? Bet the next printer in my house doesn't say HP on it.

erikaford
erikaford

I'm the reason that a new printer came into the picture. I'm the author's partner and I bought the new printer because our old one had developed severe old age related issues. So I was the one responsible for throwing the cat amongst the pigeons and requiring the Help Desk support from my battered partner. Incidentally, I'm also responsible for shopping on eBay. Unlike most women I hate shopping!