Thursday, April 22, 2010

And They Said The iPad Didn’t Print!

There, I Fixed It posted this wonderful photo of an iPad on a copy machine as a joke for a printing solution.

Although this was clearly intended as a joke, it begs the question about why today's portable devices can't print. Lots and lots of portable devices have Wi-Fi network access. It's not that hard to scan for and send to a print server or a network-attached printer.

Now, you obviously don't want to load your phone up with large amounts of printer drivers. That would bloat the system and probably make it unstable. But there's no reason why you could ship with two or three generic drivers - plain text, PostScript and maybe PCL. With PS and PCL, you'd be able to reach most laser printers, and plain text would reach almost everything else.

And if you don't have a compatible printer at home, you can set up a computer to be a PostScript print server, translating the content for printing. Linux and Mac OS X have this capability built-in via the CUPS printing system. Windows users can use Ghostscript to create a virtual PostScript printer to do the job.

While I wouldn't want everyday users trying to manually set up a Ghostscript print server, there's no reason why a phone/PDA vendor couldn't make a convenient installer available as a free download.