Old Printer Tips: Convert, Network-Enable or Go Wireless
If you’ve been using computers a long while you probably have an old printer lying around somewhere. And it’s most likely true the only reason you don’t use it is either because:
- It’s too big to fit on the desk.
- It uses an insanely thick cable with a Centronics connector to connect to your computer.
- Your computer (especially if a laptop) doesn’t have the port where that insanely thick cable is supposed to plug into.
Assuming you can acquire a printer ribbon (if dot matrix) or replacement toner (if laser) for it, you can resurrect that printer using modern tech.
Converting Centronics to USB: Only takes a single cable to do this. And being the printer is old it’s more or less guaranteed to be recognized by your computer without the need to install any drivers whatsoever.
Connect printer directly to the router: Requires a miniature print server. This connects via Ethernet directly to the router and network-enables the printer. No connection to the computer required (but some setup does need to take place.)
Connect printer over Bluetooth wireless: Requires an (expensive) adapter. Also may require another (not-so-expensive) USB Bluetooth adapter if your PC isn’t Bluetooth-enabled. The adapter mentioned for the printer does Centronics and USB! Wireless range is stated to be 100 meters (328 feet) but in practical application you’re “safe” with about 25 meters (82 feet) at the most. Works well in most instances. The best part is that you can have the printer in a completely separate room – leaving you more desk space.
Some quick truths about older printers
Dot matrix printers while loud and have a slow PPM (page per minute) speed have two distinct advantages.
- Tractor feed paper, if available, is dirt cheap.
- You can easily go for an entire year without having to change the printer ribbon.
Older business-grade HP LaserJet printers also have a slow PPM but have the following advantages.
- New toner, shockingly, is sometimes cheaper than inkjet replacement cartridges.
- Toner lasts far longer than inkjet cartridges do.
- Biz-grade LaserJets can be easily serviced. Chances are high that there’s a local certified HP tech close to where you live – and he does house calls.
- Older LaserJets require no stupid proprietary drivers because support is built-in to the OS. Windows, Mac and Linux will “see” these printers with no fuss, no muss.