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Computer Printer Interface

Today, many printers are connected to their controlling computer by USB (Universal Serial Bus), a relatively universal cable connection. Some printers can be networked wirelessly, and some are capable of printing without any computer interface. These stand-alone printers can print from a storage device or directly from a camera, because they have their own simple operating system and user interface.

In the past, printers have been connected primarily through cables using multiple-pin contacts, with physical screws to prevent damage to the connector.

USB connection is superior in its universal use among devices, whether printers or most other popular computer peripherals. This universal cord allows for hot swapping devices when only a few USB ports are available. In addition, the USB contact is a flat surface, preventing broken data transfer caused by damaged connectors. USB

It is becoming more common for printing manufacturers to offer wireless connection capability on printer models via a pre-existing Wi-Fi network. Wireless capability is currently a luxury feature on printers, because most businesses or groups that need multiple computers to print from one printing station have a pre-existing, and often more reliable, hard-wired network. However, for homes or new small businesses with a dependable Wi-Fi network in place, wireless printing can be very convenient.

With the advent of mobile technology, wireless printing has gone a step beyond simply connecting a laptop or PC to the units. Now through brand-specific apps users are able to connect from their smartphones and tablets directly to a printer to send documents and photos. There are also some general printing apps which have more universal compatibility such as Apple AirPrint and Google CloudPrint.

A trend, at least in models designed for offices in the last few years, is to have the printers connect over a hardwired network connection as an alternative to being wireless. Truthfully, on a home network even a printer connected to the same router with a cable, can still be reached from a laptop even if its connection is wireless.

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About William Elward

Founder of Castle Ink, William Elward has 20 years experience in the printer industry. He's been featured on CNN Money, Yahoo, PC World, Computer World, and other top publications and frequently blogs about printers and ink cartridges. He's an expert at diagnosing printer issues and has published guides to fixing common printer issues across the internet. A graduate of Bryant University and Columbia's Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program, he's held various leadership positions at The College Board, Bankrate, Zocdoc, and Everyday Health. Follow him on Twitter at William Elward's Twitter Profile