Recently, I had to get a new printer as the old one is slowly wearing out and an integrated scanner/copier would be a nice thing, too. Quite some things have changed since I last went to the computer store to buy a printer. Half of the printer/scanner/copier solutions starting from €120.- had built in Wifi so it can be used by all computers in the household. Looks like the Wifi chip has finally become cheap enough to make it into these sorts of devices. I wonder when/if digital cameras will be equipped with Wifi as well.
After some back and forth I decided to go for an HP C7280 for around 270 euros. A really impressive device with lots of functions. Setup was straight forward, input of the Wifi WPA key and it was part of the network. A bit of configuration in the Wifi access point to ensure it always gets the same IP address and the network was ready, too. The PictBridge USB port also supports USB sticks for direct printing and Bluetooth dongles to print directly from a mobile phone. I tried it with the Bluetooth dongle I usually use with my PC and the printer detected and used the Bluetooth stick without any manual configuration. Once the phone has sent the picture via Bluetooth the print starts automatically. Very nice. Printing from a PC via the Wifi network works just as quickly as over Ethernet or USB cable except for a somewhat long startup time of 20 seconds or so before the first page is printed. Subsequent pages, however, are printed without delay.
While I am very impressed with the printer I am VERY disappointed with the PC software of HP. I installed it on two computers and both, after rebooting, had a nasty task running in the background which consumed 100% of the processing power. Looks like I am not the only person with that problem so fortunately the Internet provided quick help. HP, how can such a glitch happen? Also, the software is not really light on CPU resources. While the printer is online some tasks in the background keep loading my CPU. Not that I would bother too much but the fan on my notebook runs almost permanently. Again, HP, what were you thinking? I've fixed the problem with a little hack, i.e. by killing the tasks running in the background and only activating them when I want to print something.
Despite the flaky HP software the printer integrates nicely in my home network due to the built in Wifi chip. No longer do I have to use memory sticks or to carry a notebook around when I want to print out something from a computer which is not close to the printer.