by February 28, 2001 0 comments

Linksys’ EtherFast 
Print Server PPSX1

Hardware print server. Rs 9,500
Features: Support for 10/100 Mbps full and half duplex networks; Windows and NetWare support.
Pros: Easy to use.
Cons: Expensive; no Web-based administration.
Source: Linksys
1C & 2C, Alsa 
Glenridge, 32
Langford Road
Bangalore 560025. 
Tel: 80-2273130-32 
Fax: 2273129 
E-mail: linksys@vsnl.com 
Website: www.linksys.com

This is a modem-sized device that lets you connect any parallel port printer
to a network. It works using the TCP/IP or IPX/SPX protocols and automatically
assigns itself an IP address from a DHCP server on the network. Drivers for both
Windows and NetWare are shipped with the device. Its network interface can
automatically sense half or full duplex 10/100 Mbps configurations and adjust
itself.

Setting up the EtherFast Print Server is simple. It has a parallel port for
connecting a printer, and an RJ45 jack for the Ethernet connection. Its power
supply plug has thin pins, so you’ll need to buy an adapter to connect it to
an electrical wall outlet. Special drivers also have to be installed on all
workstations that will print to it. These work in tandem with the printer’s
original drivers. The print server’s software can perform basic functions like
check printer status, etc. However, one feature that we missed was Web-based
administration.

The EtherFast also has 128 kB RAM and 256 kB flash memory built in. The RAM
helps in buffering data, which can speed up the print process, whereas flash
memory allows for future firmware upgrades. The print server also has drivers
for Unix and Mac. However, they’re not officially endorsed, meaning the
manufacturer doesn’t guarantee that they’ll work. Another unsupported
feature is the capability of the EtherFast to accept telnet sessions to check
the status of the device and printer. The feature works, but it hasn’t been
documented in the manual.

Overall, the EtherFast PPSX1 is a very basic device meant to provide an
Ethernet interface to a printer that has just a parallel port. At Rs 9,500, it’s
quite expensive, considering that you could share a printer using a PC. However,
if you don’t have a spare PC for this, it might be a good choice. The next
higher model, EPSX3, supports three printers.

Anuj Jain at PCQ Labs

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