A quick reality check made us realise that not everyone might be as obsessed with printing and mobile technology as we are and also that, since NFC is a rather new invention, some people might never have heard of it. So we thought that this week, we might delve into the topic more and explain what NFC actually is, what it means to printing, how it benefits businesses and also, which printers offer this technology at the moment.
What is NFC?
NFC stands for ‘Near Field Communication’, which, basically means connecting mobile devices directly and wirelessly. A bit like chatting to someone in the office instead of sending them an email or texting them, without using Skype or Whatsapp or calling them or… ok, you got the idea, right?
NFC enables data exchange between devices over a small range distance (about 10cm).
It is similar to a technology called RFID (Radio-frequency identification), which you might have come across. However, NFC is an upgraded version and hence much easier to use as it combines the interface of a smartcard and a smartcard reader.
In a wider context, NFC shares content between digital devices and for example allows you to make payments wirelessly or use your phone as an e-ticket for public transportation.
NFC doesn’t require Bluetooth, so the set-up time is much shorter and the connection more secure.
Basically, all it takes is two NFC enabled devices and you’re good to go. What’s more, only one of the devices needs to be powered at the time of use, meaning that even if your phone is turned off, you can still share data with other devices that incorporate NFC.
Although NFC is only starting to become established in the UK, you might have noticed that more and more companies, in particular food chains and public transport operators now offer contactless purchases directly from your mobile devices.
As a result, we’ve seen a vast increase in newly launched Android phones and tablets that are NFC-ready so they allow you to download the relevant apps, such as the Samsung Galaxy 4s that we rather like.
Image courtesy of CNET
What does NFC mean to printing and how can businesses benefit from it?
So if NFC is a handy, quick and secure technology for getting a sandwich, hopping on a bus and obtaining tickets to your favourite concert, wouldn’t it be great if it could be used for printing bills, documents and photos, too? Yes, of course it would be and guess what? The printing industry is quickly picking up on it!
Until now, if you wanted to print something on your office or home printer, you, depending on the devices used and their respective features, had to do one of the following:
- connect your printer to your laptop or desktop computer using a cable
- connect said devices to your printer using wifi
- if the content you wanted to print was on your phone or tablet, you had to send it to your computer first
- use technology such as Cloud or Pictbridge (for photos) to send the data from your computer or enabled mobile devices to your printer.
In either case, the printer and whichever device the content you wanted to print was on, had to be connected to an existing network and have the correct and current software installed that your printer required. Depending on the number of devices involved and their respective technical features, the printing process could be quite time consuming, and to some, a bit of a hassle.
Now, let’s imagine the following scenario: Assuming you had a mobile device that supports NFC, such as one of the newer Android tablets or phones or a Blackberry (sadly, NFC is not currently built into Apple products) as well as an NFC enabled printer, all you would have to do in order to get a physical copy of the desired data, would be to hold your mobile device within close range of your printer, tap the print button on your phone and that’s it. Simple!
In fact, even if your current printer doesn’t have NFC built in, there are products on the market that support NFC via a USB connection, such as the HP’s NFC/Wireless 1200w, a small, mobile accessory that plugs into exiting printers and offers ‘touch-to-print’ technology;
NFC enabled printers
At the moment, there aren’t that many printers on the market offering this technology but HP seems to be at the forefront by launching not one but four printers. The M806 is a mono laserjet and the M855 is a colour laserjet enterprise printer, while the MFP M880 and the MFP M830 are both multi-function printers.
Never one to miss out, here at Toner Giant, we’re really excited to announce that we will soon stock some NFC enabled printers, so keep your eyes peeled for detailed product descriptions and why we think they would make a great addition to your office devices!
In the meantime, have a look at this brilliantly made video to see NFC technology in action and get a taste of the benefits such a printer would bring to your business;
We also like these two models by Samsung: The Xpress C410W is a colour laser printer that we think works great as a home or small office printer.
The Xpress C460FW MFP works on the same principle but is a multi-function machine, meaning it can also scan, copy and fax.
In 2014, we expect to see more companies equip their enterprise as well as their home / small office printers with this technology and for NFC to become firmly established in the printing industry.
Do you think NFC will help your business printing requirements? Do you already use NFC or RFID for purchases or travelling? Any comments are much appreciated. Please get in touch below!