Wireless Printer Adapter: Everything You Need to Know

A wireless printer adapter makes print resources available to any device in a computer network. This also eliminates the need to connect a physical wire from the printer to the many devices that may be connected the local area network.

Multiple devices can access the print resource such as a desktop computer, laptop, tablet pc, Smartphone, handheld devices, and other mobile device that has built in print functions. These devices are equipped with a wireless printer adapter.

How It Was Done Back in the Day

Back in the day before the wireless printer adapter was invented, networks were created via Ethernet cables. Computers, mostly desktop computers, were physically connected to a router or switch using UTP cables, which are also referred to as Ethernet cables.

Printers were usually connected to one computer in the network and the resource was shared to other computers that were plugged into the system.

This required the host computer to remain open and running or else the printer would not be available to the other computers, which is not always the case when using a wireless printer adapter. Next, network printers were introduced, which had their own network interface cards.

This type of printer can connect to the router or hub minus the need of a host computer. This was a more convenient and significantly more efficient way of making the resource available to all computers in the network, which was also a precursor to the wireless printer adapter.

Dawn of Wireless Technology

Wireless printer adapter technology eventually brought with it a lot of possibilities. This was also incidental to new developments in our computing technology. Computers were made more mobile and the types of handheld devices increased. The advancement in wireless printer adapter technology allowed devices other than the standard computer to join a computer network and use print resources shared therein.

Connection Standards

Wireless devices, including a wireless printer adapter, make use of different standards to establish and make use of wireless connections. The 802.11 IEEE standard is the one that most devices comply with. There ate two types of 802.11 standards in use today. Most devices make use of the 802.11b standard while other is 802.11g.

However, it should be noted that more wireless printer adapter devices make use of the 802.11g standard, which is also referred to as wireless-g. This connection option allows faster data transfer, usually at 54 Mbps. Other than wireless-b and wireless-g, devices also now connect via wireless-n, which is absolutely faster and more efficient.

Wireless Printer Adapter Types

There are different types of wireless printer adapter models that can be used nowadays, which can be determined by the type of port it connects to. The most common type of wireless printer adapter that is sold in stores is the USB type adapter. Another variant is the PCI wireless adapter. Other types of adapters make use of parallel or serial connections.

Obviously, a USB adapter connects to a USB port of a particular device. A wireless printer adapter that makes use of parallel or serial connections is usually sold in a dongle form.

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A PCI wireless printer adapter on the other hand will require users to open their computer or device and install this piece of hardware as an expansion card, which is not easily removable. Note that most printers that are built to be ready for wireless connections make use of a PCI wireless printer adapter, which are already built into the printer.

Configuration and Installation

Note that before a wireless printer adapter can be installed, the printer itself must be installed and configured beforehand. After the printer is installed and configured, then the wireless card for the printer should be installed and configured. Plug the wireless printer adapter to the designated port depending on the adapter variant: USB port for a USB type adapter etc.

The computer being used to configure the printer should then be connected to the wireless network. A wireless printer adapter package will include an installation CD. Insert the installation CD into the computer’s DVD or CD drive and follow the prompts that come up on the screen.

The onscreen instructions to install a wireless printer adapter are pretty easy to follow. Note that when the installation program asks for a connection type, make sure to indicate that the connection should go through the network. This will prompt the installation program to look for printers on the entire local area network. Note that users may be prompted to install additional drivers when using a USB type wireless printer adapter.

If the installation program fails to locate a printer installed on the network, it will provide a walk through on how to establish a network connection for the printer. The rest of the steps are pretty easy and won’t require much effort. The last step of course is to make a test print just to make sure that devices on the network can print wirelessly via the network.

Bluetooth Devices

Depending on how the local area network is set up, it is possible that the entire network does not make use of a router. Given this scenario, network administrators can make use of a Bluetooth wireless printer adapter. Note that this wireless connection option does not have the same range provided by wireless-n and wireless-g connections. Nevertheless, this type of wireless printer adapter still eliminates the need for any cables running all around the house.

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The only prerequisite for using a Bluetooth wireless printer adapter is that all devices within the network, the printer included, should also have an available Bluetooth connection. If a computer or device doesn’t have this type of interface then users should take the time to install one. Many phones or mobile devices nowadays have Bluetooth compatibility, which works well with a wireless printer adapter.

Wireless Printer Configurations

Other than installing the drivers for the printer and the wireless printer adapter users can also add additional configurations and customize their system. Some of the things that can be customized include low ink warnings, passwords, printer usage permissions, and print logs among others. All of these customizable features can be configured using the installation discs that came with the printer and its wireless printer adapter.

Getting Ready to Print

Once a wireless printer adapter is set up properly, users can now start printing using a wireless connection. When printing a page, one can go to the print options and select the network printer in the list. If the network is not in the list then users will have to add it using Control Panel. The computer will scan for installed printers and printers that are on the network. The printer will be added to the list when the search is finished.

Setting up a wireless network definitely eliminates the need for unsightly wires dangling all over the house. Using a wireless printer adapter also makes printing within a network a lot easier.

Katie Smith
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