• Price: 120

  • Company: Canon

The WP-20 Wireless Print Server is a small silver box that connects to the i990 via a USB port, and then allows everyone on your network to use the printer via ethernet or Wi-Fi networks. The WP-20 works with most recent Canon photo inkjets, though some models (such as both the i6500 and i9100 A3 printers) can’t use the built-in queuing system – so you’d have to wait until the current print job finishes before starting one of your own.

The WP-20 Wireless Print Server is a small silver box that connects to your Canon printer via a USB port, and then allows everyone on your network to use the printer via ethernet or Wi-Fi networks. The WP-20 works with most recent Canon photo inkjets, though some models (such as both the i6500 and i9100 A3 printers) can’t use the built-in queuing system – so you’d have to wait until the current print job finishes before starting one of your own. We tested it with Canon's latest, and best, A4 inkjet photo printer, the Bubble Jet i990.

Set-up was much easier than any other inkjet print server we’ve seen. However, it still had its glitches. The Mac version of the Canon network driver couldn’t find the printer over the network, but it could be added manually. The WP-20 didn’t ship with the Windows drivers for the i990, since the printer is too new. The standard Windows i990 drivers are fine, but the installation process requires connecting the i990 to the computer via the USB port.

Happily, after all this the WP-20 worked without a hitch – and quickly too. Printing over an ethernet connection was seven seconds faster than via USB 2.0, admittedly over a network with only background traffic. Wireless printing was pretty nippy too, taking about four minutes – only a minute slower than by USB 2.0.

The only downside to the WP-20 is that it’s £120 more than just networking the printer through your own (or someone else’s) computer – though this will slow one of the machines down. Another seemingly free option is using an old PC or Mac as a print server (through printer sharing in Mac OS X or Windows XP) – though this may require paying for an OS upgrade. If neither solution suits, the WP-20 is the best attempt at this kind of device so far.