This is how printing on the iPad is supposed to work! I was disappointed with the way that AirPrint was rolled out in iOS 4.2.1 since it only supported a very limited set of printers. The word on the street is that technical problems were behind it, but still it’s not very as usable as-is. A friend mentioned that Printopia might be a solution to check out. I’d read up on PrintCentral, a $10 iOS app that handles printing but does it from the context of its own app, through the “send to” interface, its own browser, and other applets. Not exactly the way I wanted to see it work. Enter Ecamm’s Printopia. I was already a user of their iGlasses software, which provides extensive functionality for enhancing video to compensate for low light and many other effects.

Printopia is a $10 app for Mac OSX (no Windows version) that simply takes any printer accessible to your Mac and enables access to that printer thru AirPrint for any iPad on your network. I installed Printopia on my Mac (it installs into the system preferences) and immediately the “print” dialog on all AirPrint-enabled apps could see the two printers visible, plus a “print to PDF” option which stores a PDF image of the page on disk on the Mac. This worked on my iPad and my wife’s, and fits with the AirPrint model (much more elegant than a separate printing app). Speed was excellent, just as quick as native printing on the Mac, and image quality (to the Xerox Phaser) was also outstanding. Bottom line is that this is highly recommended!

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