The good news is that there are now several options to print from your iOS devices when on a Wi-Fi network -- and one to print from Android devices. Best of all, you don't have to buy a new printer to use AirPrint. The protocol is now available for use in network devices, not just within printers. It's easier to support those legacy printers that work just fine and are, frankly, cheaper to run than today's printers, which are designed to use high-priced, low-capacity toner and inks to fill printer makers' coffers.
The mobile printing options range from suitable just for home and small offices to a server product for a company of any size:
High end: EFI's PrintMe Mobile, software you run on a Windows machine on your backbone network or on multiple segments to AirPrint-enable most network printers in use today. It's the only product that supports printing from Android as well as from iOS.
Small to medium: Lantronix's $150 xPrintServer Network Edition, a print server appliance you plug into a network segment to add AirPrint support to most network printers in use today. It handles an unlimited number of printers on its network segment, but performance can degrade after a dozen.
Small: Lantronix's $100 xPrintServer Home Edition, a version of its print server appliance that adds a USB port to support as many as eight USB printers (if you use a USB hub to connect them) in addition to as many as two network printers.
Small: Netgear's WNDR and R series of wireless routers ($125 to $200), which include the Genie application for Macs and PCs that turns them into AirPrint print servers for any printers attached (via the network or USB cable) to the computers running Genie. If a computer is off or Genie is not running on it, its printers are not available via AirPrint.
Personal: Collobos's $20 FingerPrint application for OS X and Windows, or Ecamm Networks' $20 Printopia software for Macs only. Like Netgear's Genie, both turn your computer into an AirPrint server, making any printer attached to it (via the network or USB cable) available via AirPrint. Again, that means your computer has to be on and the application has to be running.
And for tips on printing from iOS and Android apps-- it's not always so easy -- check out our Lab Notes report.
EFI PrintMe Mobile brings AirPrint to networks large or small
EFI promises "any mobile device to any printer," but that's a stretch. Unless you're willing to assign email addresses to your printers and users agree to attach and send instead of printing in the usual way, then EFI's PrintMe Mobile supports only two mobile platforms: iOS and Android. Still, that's one more mobile platform than other solutions support.