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Review: D-Link DPR-1260

07/25/07 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Reviews

Link: http://support.dlink.com/products/view.asp?productid=DPR%2D1260

Summary: 4 USB port 802.11g print server with some extra functionality

Due to heating issues -- it's been a warm summer here in Calgary -- I've moved my D-Link DNS-323 NAS out of my office to somewhere a bit cooler. The downside of this is that I've also lost my print server, something the DNS-323 did really rather well. After a bit of wandering around town, I picked up another D-Link unit, this time the DPR-1260 print server.

The 1260 is a four-port USB2 print server with 802.11G. The USB ports can only be used for normal printers or multi-function devices ("mopiers") so don't plan on plugging in any other peripherals. The server can also act as a wireless bridge so you can use the wired connection for other remote network devices that are not physically connected to the LAN. At CDN$120 it's slightly more expensive than single USB print servers which normally sell for about $80 and up. An alternative option would have been the wired 2-port print server from Belkin which is a bit cheaper but I couldn't find one in stock in town.

An iffy point about the D-Link is that the packaging makes it clear this is a Windows specific box. That's typically a manufacturer's way of saying that they don't want to be bothered with supporting other operating systems, rather than that they don't work. I therefore figured I'd see if I could get it going with my hybrid systems. The network port is only a 10/100 correction but as I couldn't find any gigabit printer servers available and given the speed of printers, it's not much of an issue.

First up, the hardware installation. Well, it's pretty simple really. Step one is to connect the print server to the network using its 10/100 Base T port. Step two is to plug in a printer (in this case my HP DeskJet) into one of the USB ports.

Next, the systems configuration. I checked the IP assigned to the print server by DHCP and accessed the 1260 via its web interface. I'm not planning on using the wireless connection so disabled it. I checked the DPR's status for the printer which appeared correctly in the unit settings. That was about it for the server configuration and initialization.

Next was getting it to work with my XP box. Again, the steps are fairly straight forward. You browse to the configuration page, click on the "Setup" tab, choose the appropriate printer, it passes you a program to download and run on your local machine. That sets up the printer and you're done (if you already have the printer drivers installed, otherwise that's an extra step.) It's important to note that this is quite different from the way D-Link implemented printer support on the DNS-323. There they used an embedded Samba controller so it looked as if it were a PC sharing the printer. In this case, you're creating a direct connection rather to the printer than mounting it; the print server will not appear in the network neighbourhood and thus you are required to use their software or hack it. More on the latter below.

So far, so good. The next thing I wanted to do was get it working with the Mac. Here's where it started getting a bit more tricky. Selecting the "setup" tab resulted in being told that only Windows was supported so that meant I'd have to do this manually. Fortunately, Google is a click away and people elsewhere have already done this. The steps I followed were described on the macfixitforums but I'll run through them again here. I'm using OSX 10.4.10 for this so your milage may vary.

1. Bring up the System Prefences and choose "Print & Fax"
2. Select the plus sign to add a new printer
3. Choose the "IP Printer" tab
4. Select the Line Printer Daemon (LPD) as the protocol
5. Enter the IP found earlier into the address
6. Enter the queue listed in the print server's Attached Devices "LPR Queue Name" box.
7. Give it a comprehensible name. No real need to but it'll be better to use.
8. Select an appropriate printer model from the "print using" drop down.

At this point you're basically done, so do a print page to confirm that it works.

The next printer I wanted to get running is an old parallel-port HP LaserJet 5MP. As I'm using a parallel to USB adaptor on it, I wasn't sure how well it would work with the server. The answer is, well, "fiddly" but it does work. The 1260 recognised that there was a printer attached but had no idea what it was initially; it was flagged as "unknown unknown" in the description field. When I tried to use the setup option, it failed claiming that since the printer could not be identified, it wouldn't support it and bailed. On the Macintosh however I just followed the steps from earlier and it worked like a charm. When I restarted the server with the printer on, the HP was identified and the print queue name changed from "Printer" to "HPLaserJet5MP". This then mucked up the Mac print settings requiring me to reinstall the printer on it as the name of the queue cannot be changed. Under XP, the installation was similar to getting it working under OSX:

1. Use the "Add printer" requestor
2. Choose "Local printer attached to this computer". Uncheck the Plug And Play option as it isn't. Choose "Next".
3. Select "Create New Port" and choose "LPR Port", then "Next"
4. Enter the IP of the computer and the queue listed in the print server's Attached Devices "LPR Queue Name" box.
5. Hit next and you're done.

I found that when I printed the test page, the server seemed to freeze, requiring a reset. Thereafter it seemed to accept print jobs without problem. Just to confuse the issue further, the next time I reset the server, the printer was recognized properly and permitted me to install it on the XP box the "proper" way.

As I don't have a multifunction printer which includes a scanner, I did try to plug in my USB scanner to see if it would support that by itself. Unfortunately, no. Besides, I'm sure that would have raised the issue of TWAIN support which I'm pretty sure this thing doesn't do. Instead it has a web interface that's supposed to handle the scanning and returns a JPG or PDF file. I guess if you have to share that would be acceptable but it's a rather primitive solution.

Would I recommend the unit? Well, it works and it's a darn sight cheaper than buying multiple print servers when you have more than one printer. The Windows-only aspect makes it a bit frustrating to the Mac-o-phile in me, but it's not that hard to get it working. However, anyone who's hoping for the much-touted plug-n-play on the Mac is going to be disappointed on this one. The refusal to event try to support a printer it doesn't recognise is a major shortcoming as setting up custom Windows printers is a pain. The print queue changing its name depending on whether printers are on or off when the server is started is very unfortunate indeed; that alone almost tips it into the realms of a "don't buy".

The UPnP support which should handle all these scenarios (on Windows at least) doesn't seem to make an appearance. Enabling UPnP in XP only makes the web interface visible in the network neighbourhood and does (apparently) nothing else. It's possible I just don't understand what "UPnP" actually means in this case...

When's all said and done, the 1260 is good enough that I won't be returning the unit but not so much that I won't be complaining about it...

 

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