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NFC Print – easy mobile printing

Issue #1307 – Research shows 90% of smartphone users want to print but either don’t realise it is possible, do not know how to do it or find it too difficult.  Before long, these issues should be a thing of the past.  There are two main initiatives under way to sort us out and help to make printing the documents or photos we want to print from our mobile devices nice and easy.

First of all, four of the leading printer manufacturers have formed an alliance with the specific goal of standardising mobile printing in a way that will make printing easy for phone and tablet users and also to encourage app developers to build the standardised printing capability into their apps.

This alliance is called MOPRIA (MObile PRInting Alliance – http://www.mopria.org/), so watch out for this because there is due to be an awareness campaign running in due course.  The four founding alliance members are Canon, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung and Xerox.

This leads us straight into the second area of interest – because both Hewlett-Packard and Samsung are manufacturers not just of printers but also of tablet and /or mobile phone devices.

NFC Print

NFC Print – Tap to Print

There has been much chatter on the internet about NFC (Near Field Communication) over the last couple of years, not least because Apple still has not created an NFC capable iPad or iPhone!  NFC capability is largely the domain of Android phones from a wide variety of manufacturers but with NFC capability also available on phones running the Symbian, Blackberry, Bada and Windows Phone platforms.  This will develop very rapidly, particularly to add a wide range of tablets into the mix!

On the printing front, we are now seeing the first printers with NFC printing capability appearing from Hewlett-Packard and Samsung, the principle being that it only takes a tap from the phone or tablet on the top of the printer and the print job is transmitted.

Brother MFC-J870DW

Brother MFC-J870DW

Although not a MOPRIA member and not a tablet/phone manufacturer, printer manufacturer Brother has again broken new ground by launching the MFC-J870DW – the first small business inkjet printer to feature NFC Print and Scan capability.  RRP on the MFC-J870DW is a fairly hefty £174 / €199 including VAT (estimated street price in the US – $149, excluding tax) but, for that, users get a fully-featured four-function AiO with access to some of the most versatile cloud printing and scanning functionality in the industry – including scan and print to/from Facebook, Dropbox, Flikr and a number of other cloud services.

Hewlett-Packard, for its part, has taken a really interesting additional step in the process.

HP1200w Mobile Print Accessory

HP1200w Mobile Print Accessory

That is – 40 million Hewlett-Packard LaserJet and Officejet printers dating back as far as 2008 can be NFC Print enabled just by buying a small external NFC Print adapter for around €40 that simply plugs into the USB port on the printer – clever or what?  After all, why should every user have to buy a new printer just to take advantage of the new mobile technologies?

This device is the HP 1200W Mobile Print Accessory and not only adds Tap to Print NFC capability to the printer but also Direct WiFi capability, thus extending the printer’s communications accessibility right up to the cutting edge of technology.

Far from the smartphone and tablet technology destroying print, indications are that these technologies will actually drive print for many years to come as document sharing and consumption takes on a hybrid, digital/paper, model.

So, watch out for MOPRIA in the media; watch out for more mobile phones with NFC capabilities; and watch out for more NFC enabled printers to help us to print what we need when we need.