With Mobile Printing Hub, Print to Virtually Any PCL Printer with a USB Port from Mobile Devices
April 15, 2015 – For several years, printing from mobile devices has been a hot topic in the printer and MFP industry, as well as among end-users, and various mobile-printing solutions abound, from Apple AirPrint, to Google Cloud Print, to email mobile print. One new solution is from Teco Image Systems of Taiwan with its Mobile Printing Hub ($99 MSRP). The Mobile Printing Hub from Teco (which has developing and manufacturing scanners and MFPs for over 30 years ) is a small device that fits in your hand and weighs just 2.3 ounces (65 grams), and lets Apple and Android mobile users print to any PCL printer MFP with a USB 2.0 port.
And while there are many mobile-print solutions available, most have their limitations or inconveniences. For instance, with Google Classic Cloud Print, Google’s Chrome browser must be installed and the printer connected to a computer that must be always powered-on. Alternately, users may have to connect to the network that the printer’s installed on (à la Apple AirPrint), which means you can’t print to USB direct-connected printers. Finally, many printers are neither HP ePrint, Apple AiPrint, WiFi Direct, nor Google Cloud Print-compatible, leaving mobile users in somewhat of a conundrum.
Data from market-research companies indicates that mobile-printing needs will continue to grow. For instance, Forrester Research describes 29 percent of the global workforce as “any-time me, anywhere information workers” – workers who use three or more devices, and work from multiple locations.
How it Works
With the Mobile Printing Hub (MPH) users can print PDFs and JPEGs from their smartphone or tablet via WiFi Direct, QR Code, or via NFC (Near Field Communication) tap-to-print.
The MPH allows access to virtually all PCL printers and MFPs, including brands such as Brother International, Canon, Epson, Hewlett-Packard, Ricoh, and Toshiba, The MPH app is installed on Android (4.0 or later) or Apple iOS (6.0 or later) mobile devices. For security, there’s support for Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA)-2 for data encryption. Better yet, unlike similar solutions there’s no need for any print drivers – neither locally nor cloud-accessible.
To install the MPH, connect it to the printer or MFP’s USB 2.0 port with the provided USB cable. To print using a WiFi connection, on your mobile device, select WiFi connection, select the MPH device as your printer, and input the provided password. Then select the document to print. The MPH formats the document and then sends it to the printer for printing. The process is similar using NFC-Android, except that after selecting the document to print, the user taps their Android mobile device on the MPH (the printer or MFP itself doesn’t have to support NFC).
The benefit for users is convenience, and enabling mobile printing with the many older non-wireless printers and MFPs out there, while IT administrators should appreciate that users – such as guests – aren’t connecting to their network.
While the MPH was recently launched in Taiwan, and shown at the recent Consumer Electronics Show, it’s not yet available in the United States. A representative from Teco, however, reports that the firm is working on setting up a sales channel for the MPH in the United States.
Teco has promised us an MPH test unit, so stay-tuned for a Hands-On Review.