After dealing with not having a home printer for 3 or 4 months, I decided it was finally time to get a new one. I hate abusing work for printing, and there were definitely times when it would have been nice to have a printer available during the weekends. After my miserable experience with the Epson Stylus C82, I wanted to steer clear of Epson. My two main requirements were now: a fully capable remote printer, and auto on/off. There are many home inkjet printers that either come with a network print server, or can have one easily added. In all products I looked at, network printing was always an afterthought. And there were always things that did not work remotely, so you had to resort to a local connection for general maintenance. So, I took a look at laser printers that were more targeted to small offices. Sure enough, I stumbled on the Brother HL-5170DN. This thing came with an ethernet port, was fully configurable through a web interface, and supported every major network printing protocol. The one protocol that I was looking for was the Internet Printing Protocol (IPP). This is the newest printing protocol, supported by the Common Unix Printing System (CUPS), and hence Mac OS X (and Linux). IPP is basically a successor to the UNIX LPD protocol. But IPP is also the preferred protocol for Windows XP. This printer also had an auto-sleep mode, as do most laser printers and could print duplex (both sides). The only downside was the $350 price tag, and it was only black and white. Color I could live without, since any cheap inkjet printer looks like crap, anyways. If I’m printing out photos, it’s much more cost effective to go to Wolf or Ritz and have them printed on photo paper for 10 cents or whatever it costs. As for price, I’d rather splurge for a nicer printer that would last for years, rather than buy some cheap semi-disposable home inkjet that needed to be replaced every couple of years. At the least, I wouldn’t need to buy any expensive ink cartridges nearly as often.
Well, I just set this thing up the other day, and so far it has lived up to all expectations. The network printing is awesome. It even supports Rendezvous. The printer took an address from my DHCP server, and the Mac found and recoginzed it over Rendezvous. It truly was plug-and-play. And the quality of the printing is awesome. It’s faster and far, far more crisp than any inkjet I’ve seen, even on when the inkjet is set to the “best” quality. Finally, it does go to sleep after about a minute of inactivity, and then promptly wakes when a job gets printed to it. The web admin interface is also very nice. One finaly test was printing envelopes, which it passed with flying colors. The printer automatically knows when the manual feed try is open, and will print from it. I also stumbled across this nice envelope printer software for OS X called Snail Mail. It’s got nice address book integration, and can print those little USPS bar codes.
In any case, so long as this printer doesn’t just stop working, I will be in printer bliss. One of the nice things about laser printers is that there is no head to get clogged full of ink, so I don’t see this thing breaking any time soon. And I can finally print from my laptop while at home.