Printers aren’t what they used to be…

Until recently, even if you didn’t have a “network” enabled printer, you could putz around with the thing and get it to work… especially if you have a dedicated server to run it through.

Those days are over.

In the same way that the win-fax modems put the stupid in a periperal, the printers are now relying on the CPU of the host computer to run the things. This means that they need a constant connection with that host computer.

Thus, if you try to “share” it across a network, a whole host of ugly (and hard to troubleshoot) things can occur… like intermittent printing, endless spooling, and serious wait times — I’m talking up to 12 minutes to print a simple .txt file!

So, if you think that a printer you are going to buy now might EVER need to be on a network, do your research carefully and skip on over to Best Buy and New Egg and CNET for the reviews and the ratings (stars for BB, eggs for NewEgg) and read what others say about the products.

Like I just told my “social networking naysayer” father — social networking isn’t just about Twitter and Facebook… it’s about using the collective knowledge to make better choices. (He still resents that I call his time spent on NewEgg as “social networking” time — of course he’s just a lurker, he never actually leaves any reviews of his own.)

I’m wearing him down. :)

So, save yourself the headaches, stress and frustration — do the research first and don’t assume that the old “tried and true” methods will work. You can’t simply add a printer or even lock it in via TCP/IP or, set it up as a local printer by specifying the IP address and share name of the printer.

Times have changed.

Also, the drivers for Vista are not all created equal. Very few of the lower-end printers have decent drivers for Windows Vista 64-bit machines. (They do well to support standard 32-bit machines).

And before you buy, Google “problems with ________ (insert the model you plan to purchase) with __________ (the operating system(s) you plan to use) on a network.” Then read and be scared… very scared.

That just about does it for my rant’o the day. It’s late.

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