REVIEW: Lantronix xPrintServer Office Edition

The BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) phenomenon has created havoc for IT managers, especially when it comes to printing. The xPrintServer Office Edition (£125 ex. VAT), the newest member of Lantronix’s xPrintServer family, is designed specifically for office use and allows users to print from Apple iOS devices to any USB or network printer. It’s a painless solution, but is not without its limitations.

10 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE LANTRONIX XPRINTSERVER

  1. If you’ve managed to grab yourself an Apple iOS product on expenses, now is the time to justify it. An easy mobile printing solution for an iPad or iPhone, the xPrintServer Office Edition enables printing directly from the native print menu of the device to virtually any existing network-connected or USB printers without any apps to download, software to install, or the use of a computer.
  2. Building on the original xPrintServer Network Edition, the Office Edition offers new security and enterprise management features, including remote authentication/Active Directory, more control over user permissions, proxy server support, as well as the ability to network enable USB printers.
  3. Mobile printing doesn’t get any easier. A snap to use and with no configuration necessary thanks to automatic printer discovery, the xPrintServer really is plug and play. After connecting the silver box to a router via Ethernet (cable supplied) and a power outlet (selection of regional adapters supplied), anything that can be viewed, opened or read on a device running iOS 4.2 or later can be printed with the xPrintServer.
  4. There is a cheaper Home Edition (£75 ex. VAT), but this model loses the more advanced printer server management functions. If you’re looking for a device that enables a number of people to access the same printer, and print from mobile devices without having to splash out on a pricey AirPrint-compatible printer, then the Lantronix xPrintServer Office Edition is worth considering. If you’re a home worker with just one printer, save some money with the Home Edition.
  5. The xPrintServer is a compact and light device that will sit unobtrusively next to a printer. The only major consideration is that you’ll need a spare power outlet and spare Ethernet port on your router to hook up the printer. You can connect up to eight USB printers, though you’ll need a USB hub to add additional printers.
  6. Lantronix claims support for around 4,000 printers through the JetDirect, LPD and IPP protocols, so all relatively recent models should work just fine. If your printer is more than a couple of years old, save yourself an installation headache and check with Lantronix before you purchase. Also, it doesn’t support USB printers that are shared on a network either via a computer or network-attached storage device.
  7. A single xPrintServer could act as a bridge between all of your company’s iOS users and printers, although Lantronix recommends one server for every seven or so printers. This could get expensive quite quickly.
  8. The xPrintServer has a Web-based management interface that allows configuration of more complicated networks, or the management of multiple servers remotely. Printers on different subnets can be added manually and configured printers will only be seen by iOS users who share the same subnet as the xPrintServer, unless multicast traffic is enabled between subnets.
  9. Visual status of the device is restricted to just one orange LED that flashes 11 different status conditions. Determining what each flash sequence means often requires looking up the online help system. Printing also takes longer when it’s routed through the xPrintServer, in some case by up to four times.
  10. The xPrintServer Office Edition doesn’t support Android, Blackberry or Windows Phone devices, but Lantronix does offer a Cloud Print Edition (£105 ex. VAT) for Google Cloud Print-enabled devices, allowing mobile printing from Chromebook computers, Android phones and tablets, as well as Kindle Fire tablets.
SUMMARY
  • Good printer support
  • No configuration necessary
  • Upgradable firmware
  • Proxy server support
  • Remote authentication support
  • Expensive
  • Supports iOS devices only
  • Single orange status LED
  • Fiddly regional power adapter
  • Print time is extended