16 APR

Quick Look: PrintCentral for iPad

by Marianne Schultz
 

With the iPad making it into the hands of more than 500,000 people since its release, many users who are integrating their shiny new iPads into their daily lives are finding one substantial limitation: the inability to print. This limitation out of the box hamstrings business users, students, and anyone else who needs a hard copy of a forgotten presentation, article, or research paper with nothing but an iPad in hand. Fortunately, third-party developers have stepped up to fill this gap. EuroSmartz is one of these developers and PrintCentral is their latest universal app for the iPad and iPhone.

PrintCentral’s features list is quite long, but stand-outs include the ability to print over Wi-Fi or 3G, in-app access to print emails and email attachments, and the use of iPhone OS 3.2′s file sharing feature with the app’s update to version 1.2 that was just released today.

Opening the app for the first time displays a prompt to download the printer helper software from the EuroSmartz site. This software is required for printing, which is the only snag if the only computer you have access to isn’t yours and getting administrator access to install software on it isn’t easy or feasible. Otherwise, the application for the Mac takes up under 3 MB of space and required no set-up at all once installed.

Once the WePrint software was installed and a test document was transferred to the iPad via iTunes, it took under one minute to start printing the document to a printer on a local Wi-Fi network.

Printing over 3G to a printer behind a firewall may require some additional set-up through a Print via Proxy setting and EuroSmartz has some help documentation to support users in getting this up and running.

Printing emails and email attachments requires more work than might be expected when seeing this item in the app’s features list since it requires setting up each email account within the PrintCentral app again – it won’t use the built-in Mail app or pull emails from it. This might be a little tedious to do if you’re in a rush and we’d recommend you set these up before heading out the door with your iPad to avoid any delays should the urgent need to print an attachment arise suddenly.

Beyond offering printing abilities, PrintCentral document storage and viewing on your iPad and basic editing of text documents, though we found that editing was only available with documents created within PrintCentral.

PrintCentral can also access MobileMe iDisks (or any WebDAV server) to transfer and print files.

With so many features, PrintCentral is highly functional but not entirely intuitive. Fortunately, help files can be accessed within the app (an internet connection is needed to view them) and on the EuroSmartz site.

PrintCentral costs $9.99 and comes in a single universal version compatible with both the iPad and iPhone.

3 Comments

  1. eidolon

    Try Print Magic. No helper app needed…. less money too.

    seeya
    eidolon

  2. David Lindsay

    The advantage of printing directly from an iPad or iPhone to a WiFi printer when there is no computer around is obvious. However, in a situation where a computer is present, printing from an iPad or iPhone may be overkill. In my situation, I have a computer at home that prints via WiFi to an Apple Time Machine (WiFi router). The Time Machine is connected to an HP printer via an ethernet cable (CAT5). The only advantage PrintCentral would give me in this situation would be if my computer was off and I wanted to quickly print something from my iPhone, without having to boot up my computer. I contacted EuroSmartz to ask them if PrintCentral would let me print from my iPhone to the Time Capsule, which was connected to the printer. They responded by telling me that they had not tested their product yet with any Apple WiFi routers, and did not know specifically when they would do this. When I asked them what my options would be if I purchased PrintCentral and it did not print directly to the Time Capsule, they responded that I would need to get a refund from Apple. But in cases that Apple refunds the fee for an app, it is because the app does not work as described. Even though my only reason for purchasing PrintCentral would be to print from my iPhone without my computer being on, EuroSmartz’s description of the product also describes it as being used WITH the computer being on (using the ‘WePrint’ software). Basically, they are saying that the user may need to have the computer on and install the WePrint software so the iPhone can use the computer as a server. So even if PrintCentral did not work for the reason I purchased it, I would not be entitled to a refund from Apple since EuroSmartz’s description of the app says that it also works with ‘WePrint’. In my opinion, if I have to turn on my computer anyway, I might as well just print from there, and there would be no reason to print from my iPhone. Unfortunately, until EuroSmartz tests their products with an Apple WiFi router, I cannot recommend this product. I am surprised that they have not already tested this, since many owner’s of Apple products like the iPhone also own other Apple products like the Time Machine or Airport devices. They suggested that I check back with them in 4-6 months!

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