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Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Print From an Android Tablet? 203

Posted by timothy
from the print-an-emailed-scan-of-a-polaroid dept.
KowboyKrash writes "Does any Slashdotter know how to print from an Android tablet? I have read about Google Cloud Print, but will it work from all (or at least most) apps? Is there a better solution? A little background: With my laptop being four years old, and the battery failing, I want to replace it with a device with 10 hours of battery. I am purchasing an Asus Transformer Prime after Christmas as a gift to myself; my plan is to replace my laptop completely for portable computing. I've already selected several apps that should meet my needs, including Polaris Office, and TeamViewer to remotely access my desktop. So are there any printing solutions for Android? Printing to my network printer at home is good enough."
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Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Print From an Android Tablet?

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  • by wervr (712696) on Friday December 09, 2011 @07:50PM (#38320958)

    xerox machine

    • by forkfail (228161)

      I was going to go with hiring a scribe....

    • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Friday December 09, 2011 @08:38PM (#38321464) Homepage Journal

      Use it to order a real computer from the Amazon site. :-)

    • by Larryish (1215510)

      pastebin, bitches

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Since Androids have wifi, why would it be difficult to print to a networked printer? I would assume that since the submitter has a printer he also has a computer. Even if he can't print directly to the printer, uploading to a computer and printing from there should be brain-dead simple and easy. As a last resort he could send the text to himself via email, that's how I got pictures from my phone to my computer before I bought a bluetooth dongle.

      Your comment was doubly funny for me, because at work they rece

  • Cloud Print (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 09, 2011 @07:54PM (#38320996)

    Cloud print works for me very well from my phone and tablet. If printing to a home printer is good enough then it should work just fine for you. Does for me.

    • by PCM2 (4486)

      Cloud print works for me very well from my phone and tablet. If printing to a home printer is good enough then it should work just fine for you. Does for me.

      Except doesn't Cloud Print require a PC that's connected to the printer to be running as a print server? I'm told there are a few printers that have Cloud Print servers built-in now, but not many. Submitter didn't say whether he had a dedicated workstation at home.

    • If it works, for most people it's the end of it. For me, getting a tablet as powerful as a desktop pc of a few years ago and being unable to perform many of the tasks such desktop could do, is sad.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Use it all the time on my phone

  • Most apps don't have built-in print support. I've never needed to print from my phone, but it looks like an app like this could do it: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.pauloslf.cloudprint&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwyLDEsImNvbS5wYXVsb3NsZi5jbG91ZHByaW50Il0.
  • Replacement (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cyachallenge (2521604) on Friday December 09, 2011 @07:59PM (#38321052)
    A different question may be: do you really want to replace a fully functional platform for an app ridden one? The ability to print effectively shouldn't cost you $9.99. As awesome as tablets are I wouldn't recommend using one for everything.
    • by scdeimos (632778)

      The ability to print effectively shouldn't cost you $9.99.

      I agree that tablets aren't a replacement for desktops and notebooks, but it was only a few years ago that if you wanted to utilise any of the useful features of your Canon printers from Linux (e.g.: print on a CD/DVD) you had to pay a $30 tax to TurboPrint. Thankfully CUPS has improved significantly since then.

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        Or you could have just bought a less lame brand of printer.

        CUPS really didn't change that. It still pays to pay attention to what you but. It's especially true for Linux and MacOS but it occasionally applies to Windows too.

    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      Indeed. I would suggest getting a latest EEE PC instead. You get a working windows/linux machine with 7-8 hours of battery life for half the price of the transformer.

      • by hitmark (640295)

        Asus still sells EEE PC with Linux pre-installed?

        • by Luckyo (1726890)

          I don't know, but what stops you from installing it even if it's a windows machine? I believe drivers for pretty much everything that netbook has on board are available and microsoft tax on it is very small as it's sold with w7 starter.

          • by hitmark (640295)

            Nothing. But that still registers as a license sale at Microsoft and Asus, unless i attempt the rigamarole of getting a refund on the Windows i am not using...

            • by mcgrew (92797) *

              Oh, pshaw. I paid for a monitor connector on my notebook that I'll never use either. So what if it comes with Windows? I take glee in wiping Windows off of a computer. I'm not Microsoft's customer, Acer is. Acer could have sold me a naked notebook and pocketed an extra ten bucks profit. It's their loss, not mine.

    • Re:Replacement (Score:5, Informative)

      by stephanruby (542433) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @05:08AM (#38323970)

      You must have an iPad or something.

      On my Samsung Tab 10.1, I just did a search for "printer" in the Market and found at least a dozen fully functional free apps with excellent user reviews. There is at least one that was made by each major printer manufacturer, I assume that's because they're selling printers and ink, that's why they're supplying their own apps fully functional for free (with not even a paid equivalent), but Cloud Print seems to be the best one since it relies on Google Cloud Printing Service and just seems to be universal (and that one is totally free as well).

      This is not to say I disagree with your main point. A tablet is cool, but it's a not a good productivity tool unless you're a salesman or something. Mine has become exclusively an entertainment device these days, I use it for playing games, reading manga, watching videos, listening to/remote controlling podcasts/music, casually browsing photos/the web, casually playing with the gestures of the UI interface, basically almost anything but actual real work.

      And yes, I do realize the Asus Transformer comes with a keyboard, but the problem is that, even with a keyboard, it's still a very seductive device that seems to have been optimized for playing games and consuming media first and foremost.

      If you want an actual real useful light device with instantaneous startup time/connection to the web, and extremely long battery life, and assuming your needs are as simple as browsing the web, working on documents online, etc, I'd suggest you take a look at the latest Samsung Chromebook. When my relatives visit, they love my tablet and they also play with it, but they actually use my Chromebook to get actual work done (instead of their own laptops that start up just so damn slowly). Plus, the Chromebook comes with 2 years of free data (the 100 MB quota per month is laughable, but it comes in handy during the times I'm out of wifi range, and I just need a quick bit of information without wanting to activate my mobile hotspot, and the way it's done, the indicator/notifier for data consumption is very well done and very transparent despite the well known evilness of Verizon, there is actually no chance of unknown overages that will come bite me in the ass later on).

      This is not to say that the original poster will actually follow my advice. I don't think that he will. The very fact that the tablet is so seductive a device, and the fact that the Chromebook is not seductive at all -- it's just useful, is probably the main reason he'll insist on getting a tablet anyway.

    • I believe it's the NON TETHERING that is the dealbreaker here. Battery life keeps you from experiencing full freedom that a tablet can provide. He's got his apps. Instant-on is icing on the cake.

  • by ThatsMyNick (2004126) on Friday December 09, 2011 @08:08PM (#38321136)

    Do you also gift wrap it and keep it a surprise till Christmas?

  • by whereissue (2522564) on Friday December 09, 2011 @08:12PM (#38321190)

    If you can access Google's cloud printing (you can) you're all set.
    Free... so long as you don't mind sharing your data with Google (which you'd already be doing if you're using their cloud service).

    I'm curious to see what better (faster!) ideas appear on this thread... There have to be better ways.
    Or, at least, more interesting.

  • Works great for me on my Android phone, assume it would work for you. Found it on this really neat thing called the Android Market....

    Right here. [android.com]
  • No printing sucks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by frisket (149522) <peter AT silmaril DOT ie> on Friday December 09, 2011 @08:15PM (#38321230) Homepage
    It's crazy. My old N800 PDA could run CUPS, so i could print the PDFs I created with LaTeX on it. WTF are they thinking, not having printing on it? And why has no-one ported CUPS?
    • by Luckyo (1726890) on Friday December 09, 2011 @09:51PM (#38322030)

      Because nokia's "tablets" were worker's machines. Modern tablets are toys. These have very different needs and were one of the major reasons why n-series of tablets was a very small niche product while modern tablets sell millions.

      • by hey! (33014)

        I don't know if they're toys, I think they're just optimized for different tasks than laptops. Tablet interfaces and form factors prioritize information consumption over information creation.

        I don't think very many people are *replacing* their laptops with tablets, except those that exclusively want to do information-consumption-centric stuff like browsing the web, listening to music and watching videos. Tablets are also excellent for reading email, although they're awkward for responding to email. I'm wond

  • About Polaris (Score:4, Informative)

    by Wasusa (1633263) on Friday December 09, 2011 @08:18PM (#38321262)
    I know it's not your question, but just a warning on it. If you plan to send the documents to anyone, and they don't have office 2010 there are going to be issues. They'll be able to read the file in a shocking font if they open it something like openoffice or libreoffice, but there will be random characters at the start and end and the text won't be manipulable.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 09, 2011 @08:23PM (#38321294)

    I recently found out Brother has an app for printing from Android and IOS [brother-usa.com]. Maybe the other printer manufacturers do too?

    • by hitmark (640295)

      I suspect that is the way to go for printing on Android. This because the app can tie into the intent system, so that there is no requirement for print support in Android as a whole.

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      yep, Epson has one too, though it won't print pdfs for some reason. I guess because they expect you to just use it to send images to your printer. However, I use a WP4545 wireless printer and you just send whatever you like to it, from anywhere.

      Epson also comes with a email printing service - you send your document to your own, unique email address and it forwards it to your printer. I don't have it set up, but it seems a nice idea.

  • by gweilo8888 (921799) on Friday December 09, 2011 @08:24PM (#38321300)
    I don't print a *lot* from my Android tablet, but I do occasionally. I've found PrintBot to work nicely:

    https://market.android.com/details?id=net.jsecurity.printbot&hl=en [android.com]

    Note: I have no connection to the author, and haven't yet needed to try the paid version myself, so I refer to the (extremely restricted) free version.
    • I just tried it now, and it detected my CUPS server immediately. The test page printed without problems, so thanks for the tip!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    iPads can do this without paying extra money for a printing app. If your printer isn't "AirPrint" compatible, just run this program once on the mac that shares it: http://download.cnet.com/AirPrint-Activator/3000-18487_4-75327225.html

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Friday December 09, 2011 @08:33PM (#38321420) Journal

    I use PrinterShare. It requires a service running on a Windows box, but you can print through the service to a printer from outside the network, which means I can print to my home computer (for instance) from anywhere in the world I can get signal. Available from android store. Not affiliated, just a user.

  • Replacing a laptop with a tablet, any tablet, is a nasty compromise. You'll miss your 4 year old laptop the first time you have to do any work on the tablet.
    If you're like most people who have this idea, you'll wind up carrying both the tablet and the old laptop (or buying a new laptop) and then one day you'll just forget the tablet at home, and within a couple months the tablet will live on your coffee table and rarely leave the house.

    • by green1 (322787)

      not so far...

      I completely replaced my laptop with an Acer Iconia tablet + USB keyboard + wireless mouse (keyboard and mouse only used for "serious" computing tasks) and haven't looked back yet. I've been using that setup for about 4 months with no problems.

      Of course I still use my desktop when I'm at home, though I have found that even that can now go several days without getting powered up as I do more and more on the tablet.

  • I have an idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jon3k (691256) on Friday December 09, 2011 @09:07PM (#38321734)
    Instead of trying to figure out how to print, how about, in 2011, we figure out how to NOT PRINT?????
    • by tepples (727027)
      That would require buying a tablet for everyone who plans to read the document. Nor are these tablets necessarily rugged enough for single-digit-year-old children.
      • by jon3k (691256)

        That would require buying a tablet for everyone who plans to read the document

        No it doesn't. It requires everyone who needs to read the document to have access to a device capable of displaying it. But, I don't know where you got the idea that single-digit-year-old children are incapable of using tablets [youtube.com].

        • It requires everyone who needs to read the document to have access to a device capable of displaying it.

          And even that isn't yet guaranteeable in 2011. Not everybody carries a laptop, tablet, e-reader, or smartphone. Or what scenario am I missing?

          Nor are these tablets necessarily rugged enough

          I don't know where you got the idea that single-digit-year-old children are incapable of using tablets

          Perhaps I underemphasized "rugged". A careful 3-year-old can use an iPad 2, but a less careful one will likely drop it, sit on it, step on it, etc.

    • by udippel (562132)

      Thumbs up!!
      100% agree.
      +5 Insightful

      Tell this to my wife or my employer.

    • by geekmux (1040042)

      Instead of trying to figure out how to print, how about, in 2011, we figure out how to NOT PRINT?????

      Best idea I've heard yet.

      And yet, here we are...2011 and still killing trees. I lost count at how many times I've heard "paperless office" predictions or product promises. Sad part is they forgot about the human factor.

      Here's an idea to get users to stop printing. Put a single printer in the entire building. In the basement. I promise you that lazy will win the paperless office war for you.

    • by evilviper (135110)

      Best advice given so far...

      You know what else tablets don't have? DVD-Burners, TV-Tuner cards, FM Radios, 7.1 surround sound, gigE ports, rs232 ports, etc.

      The whole idea of a tablet is to get rid of all that legacy. If you want it, you get a computer or a laptop instead. The fact that tablets sell so well indicates most people are just fine without any of it. That doesn't make it a toy, far from it, it makes it a cutting-edge design.

      10 years ago, printing was a huge issue, and I thought PDAs that didn't

  • I know, I'm boring (Score:5, Interesting)

    by udippel (562132) on Friday December 09, 2011 @09:47PM (#38321998)

    and yet, I say it up and down, everywhere: I'll buy the first tablet that runs Debian natively (make that Ubuntu, or anything like that). I buy a tablet, price doesn't matter too much, the day I can install some Linux-Distro on it (please, spare all of the us the 'Android-is-Linux' nonsense comments). I don't need coolness, I am cool. I need OpenOffice on my tablet, no Google-Docs, and I need printing. Not a single Cent for some app, no new printer. CUPS is on any reasonable Linux-Distro, and that's what I am waiting for.
    Thanks to the original submitter. I was almost tempted to buy a tablet today, despite of all my good intentions as above. I didn't even consider I would not be able to print. Now I know that I am not going to buy a tablet for the time being.

    • by gnarlyc (2465948)
      You should be able to mount an image with Debian on it and chroot into it on pretty much any Android device. Or create a separate partition on the SDcard just for Debian. (That's what I do on my D1.) It works pretty well even on an older device if you don't require a fancy desktop like KDE or Gnome. I just use bash mostly. I would imagine it works much better on a newer device with a 'large' screen like a tablet has. Rock on.
      • by udippel (562132)

        Sorry, I forgot the second part of my request of sparement: I usually add 'chroot-nonsense'. Because I don't want to load some loop-mounted image. I want to insert any (u)SD with *nix on it and go through the installer. I don't understand. I could install, and have been using Ubuntu on my OMAP4-pandaboard off (u)SD for one year now. Why not on a similar tablet?

        Mark S., what do you say?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Many Archos tablets can be setup to dual boot with Android and Armstrong Linux (a full fledge desktop Linux). This isn't some hack, it is supported by the manufacturers.

      I have a Archos tablet which is 4.3 inches and I can plug it to my computer monitor through mini-HDMI, use a full sized Blutooth keyboard and mouse and boot a full desktop Linux on it.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Asus has a fancy tablet PC with a wacom tablet in... for about $1200.

    • I'll sell you one for a cool $1million. :D
    • It does. I have one of the original TF101s, and Ubuntu runs relatively well on it, though it's worth noting the kernel port is still in development.
      The Transformer (Prime) has a full keyboard, so if you're buying it as a laptop replacement, just dual boot Ubuntu. If you only have the tablet half, then you might want to go with Gnome 3. Android is rather limited, so I can guarantee you'll get frustrated with it the moment you want to do anything non-trivial.

      Here's a quick summary of what's working so far:

      • rep
    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      nd yet, I say it up and down, everywhere: I'll buy the first tablet that runs Debian natively (make that Ubuntu, or anything like that). I buy a tablet, price doesn't matter too much, the day I can install some Linux-Distro on it (please, spare all of the us the 'Android-is-Linux' nonsense comments). I don't need coolness, I am cool. I need OpenOffice on my tablet, no Google-Docs, and I need printing. Not a single Cent for some app, no new printer. CUPS is on any reasonable Linux-Distro, and that's what I a

    • You could just say that you would like to run GNU on it.

    • by khipu (2511498)

      You could install Linux on tablets 15 years ago. But you don't really want to because most Linux apps aren't designed for use with a tablet.

      The problem with Android is not that they developed a new tablet UI for it or that it isn't Debian; the problem is that they completely broke with existing languages and toolkits.

  • by C_Kode (102755) on Friday December 09, 2011 @10:05PM (#38322098) Journal

    I have a Brother Printer and Brother has an iOS and Android app for printing. So far it has worked flawlessly.

  • as for those who are asking why I would replace my laptop with a tablet here are just a few my my reasons; Battery life, greater portability, simplicity (most of my needs are web based). I am not completely eliminating my laptop from the mix I just ordered a new battery and will be setting it up as a media pc connected to my Living room tv. on the rare occasion I will need to lug a real computer someplace I still can. what about a way to add fonts to android with out rooting?
  • Wireless Brother printer with iprint (the driver for wireless Brother printers)

  • I can only guess but it is probably just as bad on android Rdp for windows and vnc for everything else works pretty good
  • Android is Linux. I use Linux at work, at home, in my car, on my tablet, etc, etc.

    It would be really nice if Android had CUPS support. That would make printing really easy for me :)

  • So the question is - why are you printing? What do you need in hard copy?

    It's nearly 2012. Haven't we moved past this for day-to-day? (Unless, of course, you're in a career that requires a lot of paperwork to be physically signed on a regular basis - given the content of your post and the fact that you're posting it here, I think that's unlikely.)

    Personally I've found that one of the great things about tablets is that they've eliminated the final few reasons I had for printing documetns.

    I realize that eve

  • by w0mprat (1317953) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @06:47AM (#38324332)
    (These notes taken from a notepad I have titled "My computer illiterate boss once did:")
    1. Take a photo of the iPad screen.
    2. Connect camera to a Laptop and download photo.
    3. Connect laptop to the LAN, email the photo to your desktop PC
    4. Go to your PC from your PC open the photo in the viewer.
    5. Copy the photo. Paste it into a word document.
    6. Print the word document. Your done.
    7. Optional step: Fax it to the intended recipient, or if the printer/scanner has a scan-to-email function use that.

    I hope this helps you. This kind of thing certainly helped people my former workplace at least feel productive.
  • We've had recent questions about cloud services, duplicates about which router to buy, and now a question about how to print.

    Time to turn off Ask Slashdot. Someone let me know if the quality goes back up and we get more interesting questions.

  • As a future buyer of a tablet, this is something I didn't consider, printing, I just took it for granted that you could print via an office LAN network.

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