Some people think that HP’s new AirPrint Printers are the future. I am not one of them. They’ve great toys and have some upsides which only an Apple-HP combination could provide but as someone who studies printers for a living I have no problems with showing the good – and perhaps more importantly the bad things about them. Find out more below.
When it comes down to it there are a couple of great things which AirPrint enabled printers provide and I don’t doubt for a second that Apple’s loyal fan base will be more than happy to fork out their dollars onto a plate for the latest new gadgets. To start with they allow printing from your Iphone, Ipad and Ipod Touch via a simple interface and wireless connection. Apple’s all about ease of use and aesthetic trendiness and in these two aspects the printers perform exceedingly well. If you want something printing of it’s as easy as pressing a few buttons, going back to watching the YouTube video of a panda sneezing, and then glancing over to the corner where your glossy new HP printer will be slowly humming as it prints out whatever you told it to.
If you want to print out from Safari, emails, text documents, picture or more than AirPrint allows you to do this in a manner which is incredibly easy. It really is as simple as ‘pressing a few buttons’. Both your device and printer need to be connected to a wireless access point but aside from that there are few limitations.
While there are few limitations when it comes to using your AirPrint enabled devices there definitely are limitations when it comes to practically every other aspect. To start with there are six HP printers which can use this technology and the bottom line is that they’re just not that great. If you’re someone who makes an impulse buy when it comes to technology you won’t have a problem. But most people, including myself like to make sure we’re getting a good deal. We like to know that we’re paying a good price, we read reviews, we check out specifications (even if we don’t always understand them – but most people do understand that bigger equals better) and make an informed purchase choice. Well the truth is that if you were to go through that process to buy any wireless printer – AirPrint or not you’d come to the conclusion that overall they just weren’t great value for money.
You want your printer to be able to essentially do two main things, you want it to be able to printer things ‘well’ – and by this I mean to high resolutions for better pictures and text, I mean quick printing in pages per minute, and I mean reliable and not prone to faults or errors. Secondly you want it to be easy to use, you don’t want the hassle of installing complex drivers, or upgrading firmware or operating systems – or buying weird types of cables or wires to transfer the information. You essentially want something that’s good and easy to use.
The truth is that for the amount of money you pay for AirPrint you’re really only getting one of those aspects, and it’s the least important one – it’s easy to use. Sure enough HP AirPrint is very easy to use – what could be easier than opening up whatever you want to print, having it on screen for a few seconds, hitting 2 buttons, and then going back to the panda video. It’s far easier than other methods of data transfer, it’s quick, easy and simple – and in this sense Apple’s software and their printers do a good job.
But on the other hand this definitely isn’t everything you want, not at all. The truth is that for the price you’re paying for this glossy Apple endorsed product you could find something which is wireless too, prints to higher resolutions, is compatible with far more of your devices, is more reliable and finally isn’t tied to HP’s terrible customer support. Those things are important and they definitely stack up.
This brings me to my next point. What are HP AirPrint models actually for? How many people actually do a substantial amount of work on their Ipads considering they’re too small for most people to type for long periods of time. Who needs this? You need a printer to do either two things, print of work or print of photos. Sure enough they can do those two things, but people don’t tend to work on their Ipads, Ipod Touches or Iphones. People do take photographs which do need inkjet photo printers and HP does cater to this – but they’re literally double to triple the cost, and do you really need something which is wireless and convenient for printing of holiday photos? Do you go on that many holidays? Furthermore none of them are classed as a portable printer by HP which means they’re limited to sitting stationary in your home. People want their Apple devices for portability so why not develop a printer which reflects this.
AirPrint devices are toys. If people want to print out work then they’ll go on their laptop, and print it out from a more reliable printer – which cost less, prints faster and to higher resolutions. If people want to print of photos they’ll do it on a specific photo printer. Neither of these two things are taken lightly, you want to make sure the printing job is done right and you don’t spend 50 dollars worth of ink on four A4 sheets of photo quality prints just sitting on your couch casually pressing ‘print’.
They’re the latest toy by Apple. They’re incompatible with other forms of wireless data transfer such as Bluetooth. They are ePrint enable but ultimately that’s not for personal use that’s a business tool. They’re cool and they’re glossy – but if you want real printing then they’re not where you go to. You’re not going to be printing of anything important, you’re not going to want to waste your time with several of their malfunctioning units and ultimately they’re designed for casual use printing. Not for serious printing, and the question is whether they’re worth paying the amount of money they cost for simple, casual printing. I don’t think so, and I think if you want a ‘real’ printer there are plenty of Canon/HP devices which don’t sacrifice the quality or price of the product just so that they can print from Apple’s various devices.