Asante LPT & USB Network Print Servers
Tech Lab Staff Review, written by Keith Benicek

September 16, 2002

Life just gets easier all the time. Well, let me clarify that to mean that those of us who are deeply involved in the technology sector, seem to think so.

You know that if you want some great ice cream, you've still got to get into your car and drive over to Baskin-Robbins (*B-R, you can send a free months pass for ice cream for that plug). It's routine that when your property tax bill comes, you've still got to write out that check, walk to the mailbox and mail it. Get up, drive, write, mail, technology hasn't touched everything quite yet.

No, bliss is today's computing with 2.8943 Ghigawattage Entrail Processors, three billion jet Inkjet printers, Apple Airport Base Stations that distributes our Broadband to all our Desktops and WiFi connected portables of both OS platforms.

While being able to plop yourself down with a Notebook or PowerBook anywhere you want to in the office or at your home, and still be able to be connected to the internet via your 802.11b Access Point, you couldn't plop down a printer anywhere you wanted to unless there was an empty Ethernet node there. And at home, unless you left the PC host to a printer on, you couldn't print from your roaming unfettered-by-wire portable. Oh I know there have been expensive (and confusing for most users) print servers around for a while. There are even a few router/switches with print servers on them, but only a few worked with both PC's and Mac's, and none with Mac OS X. None of them has been wireless either.

Hold on to your Baskin-Robbins (*) triple drip cone dude, because Asante, friend to both Mac and PC platform user has cured the ache that pains Ye!

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Announced recently this summer, Asante has introduced the VP1110L for parallel port printers and the VP1120U for USB stand-alone network print servers. Both print servers can be used connected to your office or home 10/100 Ethernet, or with the addition of an Asante AL1011-DP 802.11b PC Card, it's wireless! Now you can at last put that printer anywhere you want, move it when ever you want even just occasionally for the quarterly meeting in the conference room, or just to move it onto your big kitchen table during income tax filing time. For home network users, it means that you won't have to attach your printer to a computer "host" and leave it on to access the printer via the network.
... you will have to spend almost twice the price on an comparable HP JetDirect 300X for example, and not have WiFi capabilities.
As far as we know, there are no other network print servers with the total capabilities of these two devices. Keep this in mind as we explore the features of the VP1110L Parallel Port and VP1120U USB printer server, that you will have to spend almost twice the price on an comparable HP JetDirect 300X ($250) for example, and not have WiFi capabilities.

Asante did a fine job of making these print servers versatile; both support TCP/IP, SMB, AppleTalk and NetBEUI. They also can act as a SNMP agent for advanced IT users and if you're already using HP's JetAdmin, you can still use it to administer these print servers. Otherwise, administration is simple through an HTML interface and your favorite browser.

When you use an 802.11b PC Card with either print server to make them "wireless", you have WEP 64 or 128 bit encryption available to you for the security of your network. WEP is also set up through the HTML interface or SNMP.

If you need to have IPP (Internet Printer Protocol), printing from anywhere while on the Internet, Windows IPP Client software is also supplied with the servers. A boon for business travelers, better than sending a fax.

Both Asante print servers are fully Linux, Windows 95 through XP and of course Apple Mac OS 9.x through OS X compatible (as long as you've got a PostScript printer that is). We are planning a follow up to this article on making non-PostScript printers work on these devices, so be sure to tune back in later. These print servers will also be included in our "Ultimate Guide: Networking PC's and Macs" for Medium and Small Businesses, Schools or SoHo and home networks.


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