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Dean recommends the Netgear WGPS606 Wireless Print Server

Weekend projects included: finalize kitchen tile job, mulch garden beds, and set-up a second Netgear WGPS606 Wireless Print Server connecting the upstairs printers with the downstairs computers, and visa versa. Moreover my work laptop can now print to both even from the back porch … but not without first re-writing the installation steps. Here’s why and how I did it …

Netgear WGPS606 Wireless PrintServerI don’t really do hardware reviews that often, but after waiting a year for both prices, reviews and features to improve on wireless print servers, I finally jumped at the Netgear WGPS606 54 Mbps Wireless Print Server w/ 4-port Switch when it was generously discounted at the local Staples this past July.

So-much-so that after successfully installing printer server numero uno, I went back for a second helping before their said bargain evaporated. The end result is that not only can all my computers see all my printers from any location on my property – but that my computers also benefit a bit from a of a boost in broadband throughput as I opted to leverage the 4-port switch feature – network wiring the PCs directly to the WPGPS606′s as the computers’ connection to the Netgear WGT624 Wireless Firewall Router; which in turn broadcasts the house’s cable modem services.

It all works great, now if Netgear would only improve the installation instructions – as a documentation-induced failure in installing the first print server nearly had me returning the unit!

That was until I re-wrote the install process as follows:

  1. Step 1 was to install the various print drivers for the various printers I own on each machine – without assigning them a port;
  2. Step 2 was enable my built-in Ethernet adapter (temporarily), disable my wireless adapter (temporarily);
  3. Step 3 was to hardwire the CAT5 network cable from your PC’s built in Ethernet adapter to port 1 on the the WGPS606;
  4. Step 4 was to make sure I had my router’s WEP key handy (Netgear WGT624)
  5. Step 5 is was then running the Netgear CD to configure everything;
  6. Step 6 was to understand that the prompt “Set up a printer” means/includes setting up the print server the first time around. Personally I would have offered that as an additional/optional step on the main menu;
  7. Step 7 was to understand that I didn’t need to generate a passphrase for the print server if I already had a WEP key established for my router (see step 4);
  8. Step 8 was to realize that “Set up this PC” should occur after the driver has been installed (see step 1) – and that I should say NO to the print driver’s installer/prompt to print a test page, waiting for Netgear’s prompt of the same;
  9. Step 9 was to make sure I had an IP address range in mind that wouldn’t conflict with the automatic IP assignment (DHCP) of my computers – then manually enter that range on the 2nd print server install when it couldn’t automatically recommend an IP address;
  10. Step 10 was to either go back to a wireless configuration for my PC (see step 2) or leave the network setup as-is;
  11. Last step was to tell my neighbors that they really need to WEP protect their router as the range of the WGPS606 is impressive.

Yeah, I know, it is a bit of a hurdle – but no more so than the installation issues I’ve read with other print servers. Moreover – I like how this print server works because as far as I can tell, as it appears to me, that just about any computer that can be addresses via a USB 2.0 port can be addressed via this server. I could be wrong on this last point – so proceed with caution.

Oh on point #11 – yeah, when I saw the neighbor’s router 3/10th’s of a mile away up the hill via the WGPS606 – I knew step 10 meant leaving the PC’s physically connected to the print server as their connection to the router and leaving their wireless card/services off.

Your installation mileage may vary – but at least I don’t need a color printer for each floor, nor do I need to locate all my PCs on the same foor!-)