Connectivity is in some ways the issue as far as what printers are compatible with PalmPrint. You must be able to connect (physically or via IR or Bluetooth) your Palm to your printer in order to print. PalmPrint lets you print in four different ways from your Palm, but not all methods are applicable to all PalmOS handhelds, and not all methods are applicable to all printers.
If your printer supports IrDA and your Palm handheld does as well (all but the oldest Palms do so), this is your best option. Note that some "infrared" printers support special, non-standard (i.e., non-IrDA) infrared protocols, and PalmPrint will NOT work with them. These include the HP P1000 and P1100 and the Casio Freedio. With the P1000/P1100, HP chose to create their own "standard" for this printer called "JetSend" rather than support the existing IrDA standard. We have no plans to support JetSend, and HP has now abandoned this technology as well; their newer printers in this line, the P1215 and P1218, provide standard IrDA and not JetSend.
There are several devices on the market which are "IR-to-parallel" adapters, which essentially convert any printer into an IrDA printer. This is the perfect solution for the office environment, where you have one printer serving multiple Palm users. Just attach one of these to your printer, and everyone of them can print using IR to the printer, while at the same time the pass-through port allows the existing parallel connection to continue. These devices are more expensive than the serial-to-parallel adapters, but since they can be shared by multiple Palm users, they may be more cost-effective in an office environment. hich essentially add an infrared (IrDA) port to your printer by attaching to the existing parallel port. Unlike the serial to parallel printer adapter cables, infrared to parallel adapters seem to work on all parallel printers, regardless of whether they are "bidirectional" parallel printers or not. We have tested the following:
Of these, the Psion is battery powered making it fully mobile (but of course this provides the disadvantage that the batteries may go dead without you realizing it); the others come with AC adapters and must be plugged in. The Actisys has the advantage of having a "passthrough" port so that a computer can remain connected to the parallel port at the same time; the Psion replaces the printer connection.
The Actisys IR100MU (pictured above) provides an IR interface for any USB printer, thereby allowing you to use IR to print to most current generation printers. It runs off either four AAA batteries (for easy portability) or a provided DC converter (saving batteries for situations when an extra plug is available).
Starting with PalmOS 4.0 Palm provides software and hardware (a plug-in SDIO card) that you can add to your Palm to provide Bluetooth connectivity. Starting with PalmOS 5.0 Bluetooth support is built in to the OS and many models, including most of the Tungsten line, the Treo 650, the Zire 72, the TX, and the LifeDrive, have Bluetooth hardware built in as well. If your handheld has Bluetooth, Bluetooth printing is preferable to Infrared printing, not only because you don't have to point the handheld at the printer the entire time data is being sent from handheld to printer, but also because the transmission of data to the printer is significantly faster via Bluetooth.
As far as printer support, a small number of printers including the HP DeskJet 995c have Bluetooth as a standard feature. Other printers, including the HP DeskJet 450cbi and various models from Extech and Zebra, have Bluetooth as an optional feature.
For any other printer featuring a standard Centronix parallel port, there are a number of Bluetooth-to-parallel adapters you can put on your printer to allow you to print to them from a Bluetooth equipped Palm. We have tested the following:
All of these are "powered" adapters (that is, they come with an AC adapter and must be plugged in), and none, unfortunately, comes with a "passthrough" port allowing your computer to remain connected to the parallel port of the printer. The Epson works, as far as we can determine, ONLY with Epson printers; the Troy and the MPI (HP) work with all types of printers that we have tested. Of these, the MPI has the advantage that it identifies the printer to which it is attached, which means that PalmPrint can automatically switch to the appropriate printer language (HP/PCL, Epson, etc.) depending on the printer which it detects. The Troy identifies itself only by its generic name ("XCD"), which means that you need to select the printer type in PalmPrint manually. If you only print to one printer, of course, this will make little difference.
For any printer featuring a standard USB port, there are a number of Bluetooth-to-USB adapters you can put on your printer to allow you to print to them from a Bluetooth equipped Palm. We have tested the following, which are all "powered" adapters (that is, they come with an AC adapter and must be plugged in). None, unfortunately, comes with a "passthrough" port allowing your computer to remain connected to the USB port of the printer.:
Some older LaserJet and InkJet printers included a standard serial port, and the vast majority of receipt printers currently on the market also include a serial port. With serial connectivity, there are two tricky issues. First is the connector itself. The serial port of printers may be a 9-pin connector, a 25-pin connector, a phone cable (RJ15) connector, or even something else, so you either need a cable with the right kind of connector on both ends, or some kind of inexpensive adapter. More important is the "null modem" issue. Palm handheld devices and printers are both designed as output devices for computers, so to connect the two together you almost always (but not always!) need to "reverse polarity", which involves something called a null modem (or also simply called a "modem cable"). A good source of various kinds of serial cables is Mark/Space (www.markspace.com); Syncable Solutions (www.syncablesolutions.com) is an alternative source. There is one printer on the market, the Monarch 6015, which lets the Palm plug DIRECTLY into the printer for serial printing, so in that case no cable is needed.
Special note for Handspring users: If you have a serial cradle with a null modem, or a modem cable from Mark/Space, you will be able to print to serial printers from your Visor.
Special note for Mac users: Your "MacPac" cable (the 9-pin to Mac serial adapter) MAY be all you need for some printers. The AppleTalk connector on most printers (for example, the Apple LaserWriter Select and most Epson printers) is just that; an AppleTalk connector which requires AppleTalk (which we don't support). But on other printers, it may also function as a straight serial port. It has been reported to us that both the HP 855C and HP DeskWriter 310 work perfectly with this cabling. Note that you may have to turn the printer off and then on again for the port to recognize that it is connected to a "plain serial" connector and not an AppleTalk network, and also note that the baud rate you'll need to set is 57600 (unlike the 9600 used for most serial ports). But with those two provisos, you won't need any new cabling at all. [Also note that some older Mac printers, such as the original Imagewriters, are exclusively QuickDraw (bitmap) printers. PalmPrint will not work with these printers, but only with printers which support either PCL, PostScript, or Epson-compatible printing.
Most current LaserJet and InkJet printers have a parallel input using a standard Centronix connector; some, especially smaller portable printers, have unique, miniturized, parallel connectors. Palm devices have only serial output, so in order to print to a printer with a parallel input, there are two possibilities:
Serial-to-parallel conversion: To do this you need a "serial-to-parallel" converter. Do NOT confuse this with a simple cable. You can find parallel cables with a 25-pin connector that looks like (indeed, physically it is) a serial connector on one end and a Centronix connector on the other. If it sells for less than $20, it is NOT a serial-to-parallel converter but rather a simple parallel cable. Serial to parallel converters sells for more like $50-$100. NOTE: Printers with bidirectional parallel ports, including (we're told) the HP720C, are not compatible with serial-to-parallel printer cables.We used to sell two unique cables in bundles with PalmPrint. Both have Centronix parallel connectors on one end of the cable, but they differ in the other (serial) end:
PalmPrint Plus/9 (Greenwich Instruments GA945-CE9M) has a 9-pin male connector, which mates with either the end of your serial HotSync cradle cable, or the end of a standard Palm serial (HotSync) cable (sold separately by Palm Computing or by Mark/Space and others). This cable is compatible with all Palm handheld units, but doesn't connect directly to the Palm, but rather to the serial HotSync cradle (or HotSync cable, if you have one). Use this cable and a spare cradle and you can park a "printing dock" next to the printer in your office.
PalmPrint Plus/PP (Greenwich Instruments GA945PP) has a "Palm" serial connector, which mates directly with Palm III and VII handheld units, as well as the Symbol SPT 1500 (NOT the 1700); it does not mate with the Palm V, m100, Symbol SPT1700, Handspring Visor, or Sony Clie (there is unfortunately no cable available which will do that). Perfect for travelling with the lightest possible load. This cable CAN be used with a Palm V in conjunction with a DockPro adapter from Solvepoint which essentially changes the Palm V connector to a Palm III connector as shown in this picture:
Stevens Creek Software no longer is selling these two cables. You may be able to obtain them directly from Greenwich Instruments.
Special note for Handspring users: If you have a serial cradle, it is NOT compatible with the serial-to-parallel converter cables above. However, if you have a Mark/Space DCH-H9 serial cablem, you CAN connect that cable to our "/9" cable and print to a parallel printer.
USB? Many newer Palm handhelds, and many newer printers, have a USB input. Unfortunately USB is a "master-slave" concept, and both Palms and printers are "slaves" and cannot talk to each other. You CANNOT print to a USB printer from a Palm via "direct" USB. You can, however, print to USB printers using either IrDA-to-USB or Bluetooth-to-USB converters attached to the printer, as described above.
Printing Indirectly Via a Desktop Computer
If you have a printer that is not compatible with PalmPrint or you don't want to purchase a cable, you can "print" by transferring data to your desktop computer running some sort of terminal emulation software, like ClarisWorks (Mac or Windows) or HyperTerminal (Windows 95/98/2000). Essentially you end up "printing" to the screen of your desktop computer. From there you can either save the output to a file on your desktop (to be printed later if you wish), or, you can set the terminal emulation software to a "transfer" mode where it just transfers the incoming information directly to a printer. So, although it's a bit of a kludge, you can actually print to any printer connected to your desktop without any special cabling whatsoever. There are step-by-step instructions for doing this in the PalmPrint manual.