As the iPad has become more prevalent in the workplace, the need for effective ways to print from Apple’s tablets and phones has grown. FingerPrint 2 ($19.95) lets you print from iPhones and other iOS devices to printers on either a Windows- or Mac-based Wi-Fi network, even for non-Wi-Fi printers as well as USB-connected printers (as long as they’re connected to a PC on the network). In that role, FingerPrint extends basic AirPrint functionality to these printers.
FingerPrint is a program that you install on your computer; you don’t install anything on your iOS device. The software allows you to print, using AirPrint commands, to printers that otherwise wouldn’t be AirPrint compatible. FingerPrint is similar to Printopia but can be used with either Windows or OS X computers, while Printopia requires a Mac.
The State of iOS Printing
When we reviewed Printopia in February 2011, only a select few HP printers were AirPrint compatible, while today many if not most of the new Wi-Fi printers we review support AirPrint. Printer manufacturers and their partners have also stepped up to create printing apps, most of which cost little or nothing and are more full-featured than AirPrint. For example, with many of these apps, you can initiate, save, and view scans as well as print. Most of these apps have Android as well as iOS versions, and some have Windows Phone versions as well. Although these apps may be more versatile than AirPrint, their downside is that they may take several steps to do what AirPrint can do in one or two.
There are also plenty of non-Wi-Fi printers kicking around, and FingerPrint can extend their capabilities and perhaps their useful lifetimes as well. FingerPrint lets iPhone or iPad users in a home or office with non-AirPrint printers (even Ethernet or USB-connected models) print to these devices, as long as the i-Thing and printer are connected to the same Wi-Fi network and the printer’s drivers are installed on a PC.
You download FingerPrint (either for Windows or Mac) to the computer that you’ve installed your printer’s drivers on. (If you want to use a USB-connected printer, it would be the PC it’s connected to.) You can download a free trial, which you wouldn’t want to use for long as it has a prominent watermark, or pay $19.95 for a license. Once installed, FingerPrint will identify all the printers, and also include an additional option: Open on My PC, which—as you’d no doubt guess—displays a document on your PC.
Whenever you want to print a document from your iPhone or iPad, you give the print command, it lets you select a printer, and otherwise printing is the same as it is from AirPrint. In testing it on a network with non-AirPrint printers, it worked as advertised. One small caveat: the PC with FingerPrint installed on it must be on and awake for it to identify the printers on the network. However, if your printer’s asleep, it will wake up once the print command is given to print the job.
AirPrint’s advantage over other print apps is its simplicity. Basically, you set the number of copies, and one- or two-sided printing if it’s a duplexing printer, and you’re good to go. That’s also its great drawback, as it offers virtually no options. In many cases, a simple print may be all you need. Other apps, though, include a range of printing and scanning options.
Breathing New Life into Legacy Printers
FingerPrint 2 is worth consideration if you’re looking for a way to print from iPhones or iPads to most any printer on a Wi-Fi network (regardless of whether you use a Windows or Mac computer). FingerPrint is best for businesses or homes that use iPads (or iPhones) to print to legacy printers that lack Wi-Fi or AirPrint capability. If you already have an AirPrint-compatible printer, or one that works with the printer manufacturer’s iOS app, you may not want or need to invest the money in FingerPrint. But if you rely on older printers, FingerPrint is a way to breathe new life into them in this mobile age.
iPad App Reviews:
|OS Compatibility||Mac OS|
|Type||Business, Personal, Enterprise, Professional|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc