IT Pro Verdict
This is an inexpensive and efficient product and on paper at least, it’s also brilliantly simple. It is rather specialised, however, and in our experience wasn't quite the fuss-free solution we had anticipated. So, while it’s likely that future firmware revisions will improve printer support and performance, we can't recommend the Lantronix xPrintServer unreservedly based on our experience.
Apple's various iOS devices may be easy to use in isolation, but they can be tricky to integrate with an enterprise's existing IT infrastructure, particularly when it comes to printing. Lantronix's xPrintServer is a promising device that aims to bridge that gap, for network printers, at least.
A white box not much larger than an iPhone, the xPrintServer connects to a network with an Ethernet cable, then sets about automatically discovering and configuring any network printers on the same subnet.
Once recognised, the printers are advertised using zero-configuration networking (zeroconf) and become available to iOS devices connected to the same network via Wi-Fi using the Print command that's found in many apps.
In theory, a single xPrintServer could act as a bridge between all of a company's iOS users and printers, although Lantronix recommends one server for every seven or so printers. The running costs of multiple units are likely to be trivial though, and our review model's power consumption was less than one watt.
In many cases, configuring the xPrintServer is likely to be as simple as plugging it in. There are no controls other than a hardware reset button, and no indicators other than two Ethernet status lights and a single orange LED.
It supports a huge range of printers too, through the JetDirect, LPD and IPP protocols. In our tests, it quickly picked up wired and wireless printers, generally making them available on an iPad and iPhone without the need for software or any further configuration.
After a brief career in corporate IT, Simon Handby combined his love of technology and writing when he made the move to Computer Shopper magazine. As a technology reviewer he's since tested everything from routers and switches, to smart air fryers and doorbells, and covered technology such as EVs, TVs, solar power and the singularity.
During more than 15 years as Shopper's long-time printer reviewer, Simon tried, tested and wrote up literally hundreds of home, small office and workgroup printers. He continues reviewing smart products and printers for a variety of publications, and has been an IT Pro contributor since 2010. Simon is almost never happier than when surrounded by printers and paper, applying his stopwatch and a seasoned eye to find the best performing, best value products for business users.