Lantronix xPrintServer Home Edition review: Your printer doesn't support iOS? Add this and it will do
There are quite a few printers now available that support Apple’s AirPrint technology for printing from iOS devices such as an iPhone or iPad. However, owners of older printers may not want to buy a new one just to get AirPrint.
The xPrintServer provides a handy solution to that problem – albeit at a price. We tested the Home version, but there’s also an Office version that provides additional features, such as remote authentication for business users. However, both versions work in the same basic manner.
The xPrintServer is a small beige box, about the size of an iPhone, but a bit thicker. Tucked around the back you’ll find the power socket, along with a USB port and an Ethernet port. You use the Ethernet port to connect it to your router, and then plug a USB printer into the USB port. That might be tricky if your printer doesn’t normally live anywhere near your router – and we had to move one of our old office printers down onto the floor near our router in order to try it out with the xPrinterServer. Fortunately, the xPrintServer can also connect to wireless and networked printers too. The Home version reviewed here can connect to two networked printers, while the Office version can work with an unlimited number.
Once you’ve connected those cables your printer should automatically show up in the ‘share’ menu on your iOS devices, allowing you to print any photo, web page or other document that you want. We were pleased to see that the xPrinterServer really did work as simply and efficiently as that, automatically detecting a couple of the old printers we have in our office and allowing us to easily print some Pages documents from an iPad and photos off an iPhone. There were no software settings that we needed to adjust and the xPrintServer works completely automatically – but only if it supports your particular printer.
The compatibility list on the Lantronix web site says that the xPrintServer works with “thousands of printers” from manufacturers such as Canon, Epson and HP, but we did notice that there weren’t many Kodak printers on that list. And, when we plugged in a relatively recent Kodak ESP 3.2, we found that this didn’t work at all – so you should definitely check that compatibility list before buying.
The other disappointment is that the UK price is rather steep - £105.00 on Amazon compared to just $100 in the US. So while the xPrintServer does work well, UK users might want to see if their printer manufacturer provides an iOS app that they can use before coughing up that much cash.
The high UK price means that the xPrintServer will probably appeal primarily to business users who have multiple printers. Even so, its sheer simplicity will still appeal to many home users, and it may still be cheaper than having to buy a completely new printer.