I recently straightened up my home office and decided to move the printer to a different corner of my desk. Of course, the corner I wanted it at was about as far away from the computer as possible and I didn’t have a long enough parallel port cable (and I’m not even sure they make them long enough anyway) so I decided to get a print server. I already have a wireless 4-port router and an old but trustworthy HP LaserJet 2100, so all I needed was a print server. I know I could have upgraded to a newer printer that offers more features and faster speed, but I’ve had the LaserJet 2100 for over 7 years and didn’t pay anything for it so I couldn’t justify the cost to myself. As it stands, I picked up a StarTech.com parallel port print server for under $50, including shipping, from Newegg.com.
This is a great little print server. It is small enough to attach directly to the parallel port of the printer and has an Ethernet jack and power plug on the back. Even though it doesn’t specifically say it works with Windows Vista, I had the server installed and configured in under 5 minutes…and that included the time to add it to the access control list on the router. It supports IEEE 1284 (Centronics) bi-directional communication and has an autosensing 10/100 Mbps network connection. It also supports TCP/IP, NetBEUI, AppleTalk, and Netware printing protocols and has support for SNMP as well.
You can configure it using the provided Windows based admin utility (which unfortunately still has a Windows 95 look to it) or a web-based admin utility by browsing to the printers IP address or the server name you gave it during setup.
For the price, it can’t be beat and it allows me to continue using my old printer from pretty much anywhere I can run a network cable.