Marvell, a company that specializes in connectivity-driven solutions, has launched the mPrint WiFi module. This tiny unit plugs into the USB port of existing printers and turns an ordinary printer into a wireless printer, enabling solution providers, IT admins and end users to more easily manage, connect and print from a variety of environments.
“Until now, consumers have been unable to utilize their existing print infrastructure using their mobile devices,” says Marvell. But now, mPrint can actually enable advanced mobile features, like Apple’s AirPrint protocol, in just a few simple steps. Likewise, Android and Windows-based devices can also wirelessly connect.
Since mPrint is only deliverable through OEMs and solution providers, channel partners can equip themselves with this unit and bundle it into new or existing managed print services. No price has been announced, but the module is promised to be inexpensive, allowing a provider to lead with a significantly lower cost of entry than competitors. Customers that are keen on maximizing ROI will find keeping existing printers an attractive proposition. The module also supports USB pass-through, which means the printer can remained connected to any existing hardware while still gaining wireless connectivity.
Tech specs include Marvell’s low-powered low-cost system-on-a-chip with 802.11n wireless capabilities, a unique host interface with “TX beamforming technology,” Wi-Fi Direct certification and a promise of “forward computability” with new printing standards, printers and platforms. Today, solution providers and OEMs looking to sell the solution will also need to participate in Marvell’s mPrint Driver integration Program to ensure the platform is fully supported on all major printers, but the trade off is a compatible solution for nearly any customer environment.
Marvell’s efforts are similar to Lantronix’s xPrintServer for offices, a hard-wired dongle that provides similar network printer capabilities in environments where connectivity needs are high but capital is low. Although xPrintServer is not a wireless solution, it also quickly enables managed and mobile printing for any company which has linked their wireless and wired infrastructure.
Channelnomics believes that managed print services is an evolving IT service with potential to give providers more value-add through attached services and consultation. Managed print is also gaining popularity through the demand for mobile and cloud-based printing options, making print services a smart add-on for any provider attacking the SMB space.