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Shopping for a Wireless Printer

This document can help you shop for a wireless printer that is compatible with both your wireless network and the operating systems on your computers. Of course, you need to first install a wireless network if you have not already done so.

Before shopping for a wireless printer, you should make sure you actually need it. For example, you do not need a wireless printer if you always print from one computer in a single location. In contrast, you might need a wireless printer if you and your family print from multiple computers in more than one room.

As detailed in the sections below, when shopping for a wireless printer, you should:

* – Determine whether you want a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth printer.

* – Select a Wi-Fi wireless printer that is compatible with your Wi-Fi network frequency.

* – Verify that your wireless printer is compatible with all operating systems on your wireless network.

* – Estimate the total cost of your wireless printer.

* – Study the installation instructions for your wireless printer.

Wi-Fi or Bluetooth? – Though most wireless printers connect through Wi-Fi wireless networks, a few connect through Bluetooth wireless networks. A Wi-Fi wireless printer is usually a full-size printer. A Bluetooth wireless printer is usually a portable, special-purpose printer, such as a photo printer.

Wi-Fi Frequency Compatibility – Verify that the frequency of your Wi-Fi wireless printer will be compatible with the frequency of your Wi-Fi wireless network. IEEE 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n standards are compatible for matching frequencies among Wi-Fi CERTIFIED products. For example, if you have an 802.11g network that communicates at 2.4 gigahertz, you can use a certified 802.11b, 802.11b, or 802.11n printer that communicates at 2.4 gigahertz.

Operating System Compatibility – Your new wireless printer needs to be compatible with all operating systems on your wireless network. For example, it might include PCs running Windows, Macs running OS X, and PCs running Linux. In this case, you need to verify your printer will support all three operating systems. For each Linux PC, you might need to download a printer driver.

Wireless Printer Costs – Wireless printers can be more expensive than standard (USB) printers. For example, as of June, 2011, you can buy a standard Samsung ML-2525 laser printer for approximately $60. If you want its wireless model, ML-2525W, you need to pay approximately $94, an additional $34. Also, if you do not yet have a wireless network, you need to buy a wireless router for approximately $100, and several wireless adapters for approximately $20.00 each.

Wireless Printer Installation Instructions – You should review the installation instructions for any wireless printer you might purchase. Some manufacturers properly document wireless-printer installation; others, not so much.