Network printing is one of the few mysteries that remain around iOS devices. The default setup for iOS printing isn't the easiest setup in the world. Lantronix is taking on the mysteries around mobile device printing with the XPrintServer Office ($199.95), a new wireless printer targeting mobile first and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) workforces. While I'm focusing on iPad printing in this review, xPrintServer Office Edition also supports Android 2.3.3, Fire OS, and Chrome OS.
Lantronix sent me a review unit to test, and I want to share my experience with setting it up to print from an iPad Air.
The Lantronix xPrintServer Office measures 4.50 x 2.34 x .91 inches (L x W x H) in size. xPrintServer and the power supply weight 0.6 pounds (0.27 kg) making it small and lightweight enough for you to place anywhere around your printer.
The product's physical interfaces include
- 10/100 Ethernet port ( RJ45 connector)
- 2.0 USB port (supports connection to USB hubs)
- Factory reset button
The Lantronix xPrintServer is Apple Airprint Compatible which is nice because it enables you to print directly to a printer via Wi-Fi. There's no need to download a proprietary client app to your iOS device.
Because the product is also Google Cloud Print Ready, a technology that web-enables printers, you can also print from an Android Device, Chromebook, PC or other web-connected device to your printer.
The product documentation lists the input as 5 VDC with a maximum of 0.5 Amps with a power consumption of < 1 watt.
Lantronix includes detailed setup instructions with the xPrint Server Office. xPrintServer Office supports printers from the major vendors including HP, Dell, and Brother. A full list of supported printers is available on the Lantronix website.
Inside the xPrintServer Office packaging you'll find:
- xPrintServer Office
- RJ45 Ethernet cable (3 ft.)
- Mounting bracket
- (4) Rubber feet
- Universal power adapter (International)
- Quick start guide
While writing this article, I didn't mount the product but will tell you the bracket is pretty standard fare.
It was a bit tough at first to insert the US plug into the universal power adapter, but that could have been me not having a hardware review unit in a while so I didn't want to break anything.
The one thing I'll say that is setting up xPrintServer Office will expose the true state of network printing in your office. For example, I had to finally clean up the wiring and some other network details in my home office to get xPrintServer Office to work with my AirPrint compatible printer.
Printing from your iOS device
After setup, I was able to print directly from my iPad. I tested printing a web page from mobile Safari and found it to print quite slowly. However, printing a note from Evernote and printing an email from Mailbox performed to my expectations. Your mileage may vary with printing performance based on your network.
Management and user interface
You can manage your xPrintServer Office from a PC or a Mac using a standard web browser. While it's not a big deal for many of us, you need to have Internet access in order to manage the print server from www.findmyxps.com. You'll need to register the serial number of your xPrintServer Office and then be redirected to your xPrintServer.
You'll either have to enter the IP address of your xPrintServer Office or if Bonjour is installed on your PC or Mac may access the user interface by entering xPrintServer.local. The tools weren't difficult to understand but users new to managing network printers or Wi-Fi printing may experience a short learning curve.
I recommend taking a look at Lantronix xPrintServer Office if you are a department in a larger enterprise (like an outside sales team) or small to mid-size enterprise with a growing iPad/iPhone user community. Setting up the print server gets you past the "Airprint fu" that you once had to master to be able to print from your employee's iOS device to a Wi-Fi printer.
It has an attractive price point and easy to setup making it a better option for enabling iOS device printing.
Have you tried out xPrintServer Office? Share your experience in the comments.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.