Troubleshooting Q&A - September 13, 2004
Make Your Wireless Print Server Print
A wireless print server allows you to print untethered from the constraints of cables. However, this reader ran into an obscure problem. At first confounded, our intrepid columnist recreated the problem and offers some simple directions to solve it.
By Ron Pacchiano
Q. I just moved into a new three-bedroom apartment. Now that I have the extra space, I decided to dump my old space-saving desk and replace it with a full-size, professional one. My computer now resides under my desk and my printer sits atop my file cabinet across the room. The only problem with this setup is that because my computer and printer are so far apart, I needed to run a long USB cable across the room and connect it to a USB hub sitting on my desk. Needless to say, this was somewhat inconvenient.
To resolve this issue, I purchased a D-Link DP-311U wireless print server. I already have a wireless router setup that I use for my notebook, so this seemed like a good idea. Getting the print server set up and configured was more complicated then I had anticipated. However, after about 35 minutes of trial and error I finally managed to get it online and functioning well sort of.
The printer works, but it is extremely slow. Basically, if I send a single-page document to the printer, it starts to process the job, gets about half way through and then stops. It lays dormant for more than a minute before finally finishing the document. The same thing happens on a multi-page job, the only difference is that the printer will process the entire job fine, until it reaches the last page at which point it exhibits the same frustrating characteristics of the single-page print job.
I've tired a number of things to get around this. I downloaded and installed new firmware in the print server and loaded updated printer drivers. No change. I tried changing the port settings from LPR to RAW, but that didn't work either. I checked D-Link's knowledge base and didn't find anything useful.
Next, I contacted D-Link's technical support for assistance with this problem. They had no idea what the issue could be. The only other thing they suggested was that my printer (an HP DeskJet 5150) was not on their compatibility list and there was nothing else they could do. As a last-ditch effort, I went back to the store and exchanged the unit for another in the hope that maybe the one I had was defective. That didn't work either.
At this point, the only other thing I can do is return the DP-311U for a refund and go back to the USB cable. Since that really is the last thing I want to do, I was hoping that you might have seen these symptoms before and might have a suggestion on how I could go about correcting it. I just can't believe that my printer is incompatible with it. Thanks!
A. I have reviewed a lot of wireless products, but until this question, I had never seen this particular problem. At first, I was just going to chalk it up to the fact that there was either something odd about your system or it truly was an incompatibility with the printer.
The more I thought about that, however, the less I believed that those things were the problem. So, intrigued by your problem, I attempted to recreate it. I contacted an associate of mine and asked him to send me a D-Link DP-311U print server like your's. My brother has an HP 5150 I could use for testing. So with equipment in hand I attempted to set everything up. Usually, when I attempt to recreate a problem, I can never duplicate it. In this case, though, it acted exactly as you described.
Like you, I placed a call to D-Link's technical support and ran into the same frustrations you did. Without a satisfactory answer, I decided to try and escalated the problem to one of my public relations contacts at D-Link in the hopes that he could put me in touch with one of their engineers to diagnose the problem. After a week, I still hadn't received a return call.
I was about to give up and advise you to simply return the print server for a refund and perhap invest in a HP DeskJet 5850 wireless printer. (The 5850 has a wireless adapter built into it already ,so I doubt that you would experience the same problems you did with the D-Link. Not to mention that on HP's site they were selling it for about $99 bucks. The 5850 not only performs slightly better the 5150, but it is also about $30 bucks less then the D-Link DP-311U. If you're interested you can find out more information on it at.)
Not soon after coming to that conclusion, I came across something interesting on D-Link's knowledgebase, which sounded like it might potentially offer some insight into your problelm. D-Link's print servers are IEEE1284 bidirectional compatible. This means that data can be sent and received in both directions between the printer and the D-Link print server. However, toner status, paper level and so on will not be communicated back to the PC. In order to get printer status information, the proprietary printer driver has embedded code that needs to be passed on to the print server, decoded and then interpreted by the print server. Embedded driver codes are not supported by D-Link print servers. D-Link's print servers, whether in gateways or standalone products, are plain TCP/IP print servers. As a result, if you should encounter a problem, the knowledgebase reported, disable bidirectional printing and resend your print job.
It sounded kind of farfetched since support for bidirectional printing had been around since around the late '80s, but at this point I figured what the heck: I disabled bidirectional printing and wouldn't you know it, the job printed PERFECTLY! Test pages, single page and multi-page documents, graphics, pictures, whatever ... they all printed beautifully without the previous delays.
If it worked for me, it should work for you, too. To disable bidirectional printing open the Control Panel, click Printers. Right-click on your 5150 printer and click Properties. Go to the Ports tab and clear the option towards the bottom that says Enable bidirectional support and then click OK. Now try sending a test page to the printer and it should work fine. If not, then I think an HP DeskJet 5850 wireless printer would be a beautiful addition to your new office. Best of Luck!