Paul A. Rooke, executive vice president of Lexmark and president of its Consumer Printer Division, answers some common questions people ask as they’re learning how to set up wireless printing.

What are the benefits of Wi-Fi printing?

Wireless printing lets you print with the same mobility you enjoy when you work on a wireless laptop computer. You can place your wireless printer anywhere in your home, as long as the area is covered by your wireless network. In addition, you can share the same wireless printer with other computer users in your household, eliminating the need for multiple printers. And printing through a wireless internet connection doesn’t affect the quality of the documents and photos you print. Your printer will produce the same quality of output whether you print wirelessly or with your printer wired directly to your computer.

I’m ready to cut the cord! How do I get started?

You’ll need a wireless router, which is the hub of the wireless network and is usually connected to the internet so that internet connection can be shared. From there, you’re completely wire-free, which gives you the mobility to work on your computer and print from wherever your home network reaches.

What are the advantages of a wireless router?

A wireless router allows multiple devices to communicate with each other, just as if they were wired together. This means you don’t have to run messy cables throughout your house or drill holes in the wall and floor to be totally connected.

What if I don’t want a wireless router? Can I still print wirelessly?

As long as your computer has wireless capability, you can print wirelessly using what the experts call an ad hoc wireless connection, when a laptop wireless card and a printer wireless card communicate directly with one another. But it’s not an ideal solution, since you’ll have trouble being on the internet and printing at the same time. A network with a wireless router at its core makes sense, especially considering that prices on wireless routers have dropped dramatically in the last 18 months. Lexmark’s line of wireless printers and wireless all-in-one (AIO) printers are inexpensive as well, starting at $79.99.

How do I make sure my network is secure?

When you set up your wireless router, follow the manufacturer’s instructions about securing your network. Keep that information handy when you go to set up your wireless printer. You’ll need to know your service set identifier (SSID), which is basically the name of your network and your network security key.

Common security types for networks include WEP, WPA and WPA2 — there is also usually an option for no security. We suggest using WPA, at a minimum, and then follow the manufacturer’s instructions to encrypt your signal and set your own password. A password isn’t mandatory, but we recommend using one to help keep your network and computer secure.

I also keep hearing about different standards for wireless networks, like “b” and “g” and “n.” What do they refer to?

These different standards relate to the speed of your network, which dictates how quickly you can upload and download information. Without getting too technical, networks running the 802.11g standard are faster than 802.11b networks, and 802.11n networks promise to be even faster. The final official standards for 802.11n haven’t been published yet, but a lot of wireless router manufacturers have already begun making products (so-called “Draft N” routers) that will most likely comply. The good news is that all of Lexmark’s wireless printers and all-in-one devices are already compatible with 802.11b, 802.11g and “Draft-N” routers.

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