Travelers who find themselves in need of a printer don't always have a lot of options.
A nearby, all-night print shop such as Kinko's might bail you out, but that's not guaranteed. And sometimes what you really need is to print files on the spot'but it's not like you can always just plug into the nearest available printer.
Silex Technology America Inc. of Salt Lake City wants to make the option a lot easier with its WiPrint wireless print system.
WiPrint, which Silex plans to release in late fall, works over IEEE 802.11b WiFi. A notebook PC user can access WiPrint and get a list of available printers on a WiPrint-enabled wireless network. Double-click on one of the printers and WiPrint downloads the appropriate driver and sets up the printer, the company said. Then, hit print.
Printers connect to WiPrint through a small wireless sever. Notebook users need nothing other than WiFi capability, said Gary Bradt, vice president of Silex's biometric division. The only space it takes up on a notebook PC's hard drive is what's required for the print driver.
The company sees WiPrint as a useful addition to WiFi hot spots, hotels, airports, print shops and convention centers, and even offices where a visitor can connect and print. It can work with ink-jet, laser and photo printers'including portables'as well as multifunction devices, according to Silex.
The system establishes a closed connection between the notebook and printer, so the company says there's no threat to the host organization's network.
Because the product hasn't been released yet, a price hasn't been set. But assuming it's in a reasonable range, WiPrint could catch on with providers of WiFi access, who could provide printing for free or for a fee.