Review: 6 AirPrint solutions for iPhones and iPads

The best mobile printing options for large networks, small offices, and personal use

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Printopia
Ecamm's OS X-only Printopia also installs as a service on Mac OX 10.5.8 Leopard or later, but you manage it through a system preference on the Mac. The company offers a time-limited trial version, so you can test it in your environment before buying.

Configuration options include paper size, color settings, toner efficiency, password protection for printers, the network port, and the printer icons in iOS's printer list to distinguish Printopia-enabled printers from other AirPrint printers). Like FingerPrint, it can "print" to JPEG or PDF files sent to your Mac or apps such as iPhoto and Evernote. Plus, you get the ability to select duplex printing for printers that offer that capability.

The Printopia system preference for enabling AirPrint on OS X.
The Printopia system preference for enabling AirPrint on OS X.

Netgear Genie
The simplest of the three application-based AirPrint options is the nicely designed Genie router-management app that comes with Netgear's WNDR and R series of wireless routers, as well as with its wireless repeaters. (I tested it with the WNDR3800, WNDR4500, and R6300 routers, all of which I really liked as routers.) You can download Genie from Netgear's website to as many Macs and Windows PCs as you have on your network -- there's no per-client price as with FingerPrint and Printopia.

There's a version for OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or later, as well as for Windows XP Service Pack 3 or later. Note that the Genie iOS and Android clients let you manage your Netgear router but not AirPrint; you do that from the computer whose printers you are AirPrint-enabling. (It works only with selected -- meaning recent-model -- Netgear routers.)

On your computer, go to Genie's AirPrint pane and enable the printers you want to make AirPrint-compatible. That's it! As long as the computer and Genie app are running, its printers are available to iOS devices.

Netgear's Genie router-management application for OS X and Windows offers AirPrint support as a bonus.
Netgear's Genie router-management application for OS X and Windows offers AirPrint support as a bonus.

You don't get any of the printer configuration capabilities of FingerPrint or Printopia, nor their print-to-file capabilities. AirPrint support in Genie is simply one of several router management capabilities that Netgear offers -- a bonus of a sort. For most home and small-office environments, that's all you need. However, Genie's existence makes me wonder why Apple's own AirPort routers don't automatically AirPrint-enable network printers. Maybe Apple should license the technology from Netgear or Lantronix!

Keep in mind that although Genie comes with Netgear routers, the AirPrint service is not a network service like the Lantronix xPrintServer appliances and EFI's PrintMe Mobile server software -- it is not running on the network but on your computers. At least one computer must be on running the Genie app for iOS devices to see its attached printers.
--Galen Gruman

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