Seems like eons ago when I reported on a suite of apps from Two Dollar Apps that were designed to allow you to print from your phone. Well, after several dozen email exchanges, countless test versions, log files and plenty of disappointment, the apps are finally working. Actually, to thank me for my persistence, developer Paul Mariotti has invited me to explore his wine cellar the next time I happen to be in Italy. Things are not yet perfect, and Paul continues to work on making things better, but it’s a good start. The apps don’t have a trial (the developer is working on a solution) but if you feel a bit daring, or lucky, you may want to give it a try.
There are a total of 5 apps, all with the same print engine, but with different capabilities. WordPrint, ExcelPrint and PDFPrint ($0.99 each) do what they say. They will print any file on your SkyDrive in that specific file format. PrintSuite ($2.49) will print all three formats, again provided the file resides on your SkyDrive. ImagePrint ($0.99) will print any photo, either on your device or on your SkyDrive. They all require a Wi-Fi connection and a PC with at least one connected printer, running the WP7 Print Helper software, available for free download from Two Dollar Apps. The app is also capable of printing to public or web based printers.
I am going to post a step by step guide tomorrow describing exactly what you need to do, but as a quick summary; Download and install the WP7 Print Helper software, open port 8000 (or whatever port you selected in the WP7 Print Helper setup) on your PCs Firewall Then on your Wireless router, open port 8000 (or your preferred port) to your PCs IP address, and you are good to go. It is also recommended you reserve your IP address in your router so you don’t have to do all of this more than once.
Print Helper will run in the background on your PC, always available for you to print. After your PC and router are setup, all you do is open the app on your Windows Phone, setup your IP and port credentials, select a file and hit print. Or, if you are using of the web print solutions, enter the appropriate web address. If you have more than one printer connected to the PC you will be given a choice to select a printer, along with a few options for portrait/landscape, paper size, etc. I have successfully printed to an HP P2050 Laserjet, connected directly to the wireless router at home, and a Canon Office Copier/Scanner/Printer at work (connected directly to our switch). Unfortunately, I have been unable to print to a Canon MP830 Multi-Function machine at home which is being shared through a Vista desktop. Even after installing the driver software and connecting the printer directly to my laptop, I was still unable to print to the multi-function. Disappointing indeed.
As mentioned, there is no trial and as it could be hit and miss depending on your printer setup, there is some risk involved. But if you are adventurous I would suggest trying ImagePrint for 0.99 (who has not had a photo they wanted to print without plugging in). If that works for you, adding PrintSuite would cover everything else. Until there is a way to test the app with your unique PC/printer setup I am afraid there will be a fair number of disappointed users. But, for the cost of a candy bar, what the heck. Go for it.
I have given Paul a couple suggestions, like saving your IP/Port info so you don’t have to change/re-enter info every time you print through a different PC, and maybe a way to see thumbnails of SkyDrive images instead of a list of those cryptic named files to select from. He has assured me there is more to come. You can find all of the apps from Two Dollar Apps in the Microsoft Store here.