Still, if the need is there, Bluetooth can be used to establish a short-range RF connection between the mobile device and a printer. The Bluetooth SIG has established two primary models for Bluetooth printing. They are Hardcopy Cable Replacement (HCRP) and Basic Printing Profile (BPP). The HCRP method emulates a parallel port or USB connection. Data is sent unmodified to the printer and the page is rendered exactly as it is displayed on the device. It does, however, require printer specific drivers be installed on the device. Since that is not easily done on mobile phones, HCRP is more appropriate for laptop computers. The second model, BPP, includes a simple push transfer method where a single driver on mobile device is all that is necessary for the device to work with a variety of Bluetooth printers.
This all assumes that the user has a Bluetooth-enabled phone, which currently account for only 14% of all mobile phones shipped worldwide, and a Bluetooth-enabled printer, which can be even harder to come by since Wi-Fi in printers has overwhelmed the market for Bluetooth. Still, there are models available and several companies now offering a range of modular wireless print servers and print adapters (eg. Axs, Buffalo Technologies, D-Link, Linksys, Troy Wireless). These products provide modular wireless printing solutions by adding the capability to compatible printers.
This was first published in October 2004