One of the challenges lawyers will face as they become more mobile is how to manage their information. There are obvious ways if you can keep it electronic: print to PDF or save it in its native format and upload it your cloud-based storage or e-mail it as an attachment. There are some documents that you may need to save in print and we are starting to see some interesting options developing for printing from anywhere. While Google Cloud Print is getting a lot of press, it is not the only game in town.
Let’s look at Google Cloud Print first. When it was initially released, it would only find locally-connected printers. So despite leveraging the Internet, networked printers weren’t available. That’s changed and – once you’ve configured it through Google Chrome – I can now see both my networked laser printer as well as my locally installed printers, both physical and virtual, like PDF printers. It’s free but it’s usefulness is limited. It will only work from Cloud Print enabled resources, and there aren’t many. It’s obviously early days, though, and this is going to have a big impact for mobile researchers.
Printershare is an alternative and it has a free version that is essentially a trial. You can print 20 pages and then you need to upgrade. Mobile users may be particularly interested in Printershare because you can print from just about anything and it will find nearby printers using WiFi and bluetooth networks. Using the Printershare Android app, I could locate nearby printers as well as printing back to my own, remotely shared printer. Printershare is available for Windows, Mac, iPhone, and Android.
PrinterOn is another print-via-the-Internet resource, based here in Canada. You can download and install your own free version of their PrintWhere software. They also offer an iPhone/iPad app as well as one for Blackberry. Once installed, the PrintWhere software discovers available printers. When you send a print job, it is encrypted and sent from PrinterOn’s servers to your printer. I wasn’t successful at getting their software to run, but I’m inclined to see it as a problem with my machine (and perhaps Windows’ firewall) in light of the success they’re having bringing PrintSpot (printing hot spots) online.
There are other ways to print remotely by configuring your network to allow Internet-based print requests to come in and find your printer. That’s great if you’re comfortable managing that set up, but I’m going to keep my eyes on cloud-based printing as it seems to be the easier way to have printer access when I’m away from my network.