Sharing an inexpensive printer on the network

I had a request the other day, to share a Hewlett Packard All-In-One. I think the unit is a predecessor to the HP 2575. Inexpensive ($150.00), the unit prints with a color inkjet, and includes a scanner. It was the scanner in particular, that people wanted to share within the office, although they were also pleased at the idea of being able to print to a color printer.

When I hear about sharing a scanner, my first thought is to have them share a scanner on a networked copier. Imagistics and Xerox both have this option, and it works very well. But in this case, we had a cheap printer/scanner, that connected to a Windows XP desktop machine through a USB port.

The second idea would be to share the unit via the Windows XP sharing mechanism, to others on the network. This works reasonably well for sharing printers, but I was not aware that it would share the scanner function as well…absent some kind of networked scanner software and extra functionality built into the unit.

So I looked into networked scanners, and found a very nice HP Scanner for $400 or so which included networked scanning. But this was like hitting a tack with a sledgehammer.

We finally settled on a nifty device called the Keyspan USB Server. In their own words:

The USB Server makes it possible for USB printers, USB scanners and other USB devices to be used and shared across your network. It is ideal for home office, small office or classroom use!

The USB Server supports both Ethernet and Wi-Fi networks — making it easy to use USB devices from a Wi-Fi based laptop!

We attaching our little printer to this thing, installed the print drivers on each workstation and voila! instantly were able to scan to any workstation on the network.

If you’ve installed printer servers on a network, (like the Intel Netport) this is a similar kind of thing for USB devices. It requires a small memory-resident program to be present on each workstation which uses the device.

Recommended at $104.00 from Amazon.

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