As the concept of the wireless workplace slowly becomes a reality, it is no surprise that the printing arena has jumped on the bandwagon. And the sooner the better, it seems, for Lexmark Canada Inc.
Last month, the Richmond Hill, Ont.-based company announced two new products designed for businesses in need of secure printing capabilities over wireless infrastructures.
The Lexmark 802.11b Wireless Print Adapter offers remote printing from the network to the printer. Wi-Fi-certified for compatibility with 802.11b, the most-used standard for wireless, the Wireless Print Adapter acts as a plug-and-play solution for Ethernet-capable printers and print servers. The Adapter also supports the Wireless Equivalence Privacy (WEP) protocol and uses 64- and 128-bit encryption. The Adapter attaches to the side of the printer and plugs into the Ethernet port on the back of the machine.
“In terms of functionality, it is merely an extension of our network capabilities,” said Andrew Kiss, product manager, Printing Solutions and Services division for Lexmark. “There is no loss of function, and there is no gain of function beyond having a wireless printer that is truly able to be placed at the greatest point of need.”
Lexmark also introduced the PrintCryption Card, which provides encrypted, end-to-end print job security between mainframe systems and wired-to-wireless network printers. According to Kiss, the card generates random and unique session keys for each print job and works in conjunction with software from Springfield, Ill.-based Levi, Ray & Shoup Inc., an IT solutions provider.
“The keys are unique to the printer and they change,” Kiss said. “For example, even if you have an encrypted piece of data being sent from the host, and even if it is captured, you cannot print it off unless you have the specific printer with the specific key.”
And for McMillan Binch, a full-service business law firm in Toronto, security is of the utmost importance. Although the firm does not use technology from Lexmark, it recently deployed a wireless LAN from Cisco in its environment, and while eventually looking to go paperless, the company said that the ability to print wirelessly and securely is very attractive.
“Lawyers are paper animals,” said George Atis, chairperson of the Technology and New Media Group for McMillan Binch. “If the printers are networked wirelessly, I can be in boardroom C…and simply print to the network printer in my office.”
Lexmark is not new to the wireless printing business. Its original foray into the realm was through infrared technology, a widely used method of data transmission found on many household items, including remote controls. According to Kiss, in office environments, the technology had several limitations, including range and the fact that it was a line-of-sight technology.
“802.11b…has a much greater range, works throughout a building and does not have limitations as it relates to walls,” Kiss said. “This is a positive thing, (but) it does incite some concerns as it relates to security. We look at this wireless technology as trading in a sedan for a convertible: you look and feel great, but you have to be careful where you park it.”
With the PrintCryption Card and the Wireless Print Adapter, Lexmark said it has solved the security concerns of wireless printing. It is targeting financial institutions, healthcare and government agencies with the new offerings.
The PrintCryption Card is available now and is listed at $319. The Wireless Print Adapter is also available and lists for $289. Visit the company at