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  Tech Lab IT Journal
               
Review: D-Link DP-311p 802.11b Print Server
by Zack Bryce, Tech Lab Manager
November 17th, 2003

The Problem –
Usually deciding where to put a computer for a user (yourself included) is no big deal. Define a usable work area with access to a network node, get an appropriate desk or workstation and set it up. If it’s your home or in a very small but growing business, laying new Ethernet cables to accommodate another computer may be expensive, difficult, if not impossible. That’s one of the main reasons Wi-Fi or WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) was invented.

No, usually the biggest headache IT, a business owner or home user has, is where to put the printer(s). Here’s the constraints you’ll probably face:
1) A location that best fits the shared needs to the computer users that will access a particular printer.
2) An available network node to plug the printer into.
3) A space with a power supply and the combination of the above two.

A wireless 802.11b “print server” helps to solve those three issues, as long as you have Wi-Fi as part of your current business or home network, and you should. It will help solve where to put it by removing the necessity of the printer being tired to existing network node locations and will even allow you to move the printer around a bit until a suitable location satisfy most users.

Best of all it makes sharing the printer a breeze in small offices, that once had been sharing printers connected to a computer, which had to be left on to allow the printer sharing access. If you’re a bit unfamiliar with Wi-Fi, Wireless, WLAN or 802.11b and Print Sharing, think of the “Wi-Fi” connected device as having invisible cable to your existing Ethernet “wired” Network.

Any other Ethernet wired or wireless computer on your Network can “communicate” with a Wi-Fi equipped computer or printer. All you need to have is a Wi-Fi Routher or Wi-Fi “access point”, essentially radio receiver / transmitter, attached to your LAN (network).

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The Solution –
Print Servers have been around for a very long time. They essentially act as a “computer interface” between a printer and you LAN. It is the device in which you assign an IP Address on your LAN for a particular device, in this case a printer.

Wi-Fi or 802.11b Wireless Print Servers have also been around for a couple years now. Most have been very expensive (upwards of $400 to $500 US) and others have been pretty much junk. They come in two flavors, traditional Parallel Port with a Centronics connector, and a very few USB 1.1 versions.

The new D-Link DP-311p 802.11b Print Server is an excellent piece of hardware suitable for Corporate, S/MB or Home printer applications. Compact in size and full of features for any network printer use, it comes at a bargain price of around US$129 on the street (or Internet dealers).

The D-Link DP-311P Wireless Print Server is an 802.11b compliant device, ensuring compatibility with 802.11b/g standards-based networking devices, and it supports all major network operating systems and protocols. It is also AppleTalk complaint as well and supports integrated 64/128-bit wired equivalent privacy (WEP) encryption.

All high-end Laser Printers still have Centronics Parallel Ports and many small Lasers or home Inkjets do as well. The D-Link DP-311p plugs directly into that Parallel Port. The unit also comes with a small one piece 110VAC power supply which plug into the back of the DP-311p.
 

There are two LED indicator lights on the back (the illustration is wrong) for power status and WLAN status, as well as a reset button and configuration/operation switch. The antenna screws in and is adjustable to most any position, depending on how the DP-311p is attached to the printer.

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