AirPrint is a printing solution for mobile that now comes as standard in the Apple operating system. If you own a device with iOS v4.2 or later, then you have access to AirPrint capabilities on your phone or mobile devices – that includes both iPads and iPod touch.
This software will allow you to print wirelessing from your device to any compatible printer that is connected to the same local wireless network. Using AirPrint, you can print from programs such as Photos, Safari, Mail, and iPhoto, as well as other email clients and Office documents, as well as many third-party apps.
Although there are several ways you can print from your iPhone or other mobile device, AirPrint is probably the most straightforward, mostly because it doesn’t require any special software or apps. As you might expect from an Apple product, the steps to issuing a command to print from your iOS device are incredibly simple: as soon as you hit ‘print’ you’ll just need to choose between any compatible printers on your local wi-fi network, tweak any settings (such as number of pages or copies), and then press print again.
So the only other piece of the puzzle is access to an AirPrint enabled printer. If you’re looking to buy, this guide to the top five AirPrint printers will help you choose from a great shortlist. But before we get into the actual recommendations, we wanted to equip you with a few basic bits of knowledge to make sure you’re making the right choice for your needs.
The growing popularity of AirPrint
Back in late 2010, when Apple first started rolling out AirPrint as a standard utility in its operating system, only a small number of printers were enabled with the appropriate capabilities to make the system work – and all of them were HP printers.
Since then, many more printers have joined the ranks as AirPrint compatible, and the vast majority of wi-fi enabled printers put out on the market today are similarly endowed. This includes printers from major brands such as Brother, Canon, Dell, Fuji/Xerox, HP, Lexmark, Ricoh and Samsung. You’ll be able to find a complete list of AirPrint compatible printers on the Apple website.
This all means that you’ll have a wide selection of printers to choose from, so you’ll need to decide a few things before making your choice.
General or special purpose?
As opposed to printers that are specially designed to print photographs, labels or even 3D objects, the majority of printers are ‘general purpose’.
Laser or inkjet?
There are two kinds of print technology most widely available on the market today – laser and inkjet. Both can handle most everyday print jobs (it wasn’t always this way), but it’s worth knowing that – traditionally at least – laser models print text better than inkjet, while inkjets are usually much better at printing photographs.
Speed and size
When you’re looking at printers, unless you happen to be experienced in this field, you’re going to see a lot of confusing specifications. Two of the most important to look out for are speed and size. Regarding the first, most printer product descriptions will include a figure to show how many pages it can print in a minute. We tend to take the view that, as long as you’re not in the business of printing lots of long documents or multiple copies of things, then estimated speeds shouldn’t really affect your decision. However, in case you are looking for something particularly speedy, it’s worth knowing that – generally speaking – laser printers are faster than inkjets, and will live up to the promises they make in their advertised speeds.
When it comes to size, the specifications matter as much as you want them to! If you’re short of space, make sure to check how much operating space your chosen printer needs – given that it might need some headroom and extra inches for the print tray.
Black and white, or colour?
The chances are, since you’re buying a modern printer with AirPrint capability, you’re going to want to choose something that prints in colour. However, it’s just worth being aware that if you’re mainly printing text documents in black and white, then the upfront and ongoing savings you’ll make from choosing a non-colour printer might be significant enough to turn your head.
That’s about all you need to know to start deciding which (if any!) of our top five AirPrint printers is right for you. So, without further ado, here is our selection.