Apple iPad, Day 14: Printing from the iPad

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30 Days With the iPad: Day 14

Since I first announced that this month's 30 Days project was going to be working with the iPad as a replacement for a PC, I have received numerous emails, comments, and tweets asking me to please spend some time talking about how to print from an iPad. Today, I am doing just that.

Personally, I rarely print. Even without the requests, I would have definitely covered printing from the iPad over the course of the 30 days. But, because it is not a function I perform regularly from my PC, it is not something I considered to be a primary consideration for the iPad to work as a replacement for my PC.

While creative on some level, I don't think this solution is practical...or functional.
The extent of my printing boils down to printing out my grocery list from Microsoft OneNote when it's time to go shopping. This week I didn't even do that. I just created the grocery list on the iPad and took the iPad with me to the store instead of printing. Occasionally, though, I might need to print something so it can be signed and scanned and emailed back, a' la faxing--but 2011 style. So, I need to figure out how, or if, that's possible from an iPad.

There's an App for That

Although I don't use it much, printing is a function I just take for granted on a PC. Whether I am using Windows, or Mac OS X, or Linux, I can connect just about any printer and it will work. The OS will automatically detect it and set it up with the correct drivers, and when I click "print" from any application or anywhere in the OS it will just do it. The fact that printing from the iPad requires research and an investment of effort is a con for the iPad as a PC replacement in and of itself.

There are a number of apps available for the iPad that offer to facilitate printing in some way. My search for on the word "printer" returned 64 possible options that are iPad-specific. To narrow things down, I decided to sort the results based on customer rating.

Most of the apps seem to either rely on using an Airprint compatible printer (which we'll get to in a bit), or using a PC-based agent to enable the app to connect to a printer through the PC. Since the purpose of this exercise is to eliminate the PC altogether, options that require a PC are not viable.

Epson iPrint

One of the top rated apps--which also happens to be free-is Epson iPrint. I wasn't aware the app existed, but as it turns out I have an Epson Artisan 710 wireless printer, and that model is support by Epson iPrint, so I installed the app.

The app has rave reviews from customers, and apparently is a quantum leap better than its predecessor, but it couldn't initially find my printer, and I couldn't find any support to help troubleshoot and figure out why. I tap Search, it searches, and tells me "cannot find printer". Beyond that, I finding online guidance for how to resolve the problem, or steps to try to manually add the printer was a struggle.

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