1. Computing

Using USB Connectors for Your Printer

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Printers and scanners typically connect to a computer via a USB cable, and they're cheap enough that most manufacturers include one in the box. It's worthing checking that one's included before you leave the store (or place your online order), however, because there's nothing more frustrating than getting home only to realize you have to make another trip to the electronics store.

USB

Universal Serial Bus, or USB, is a protocol that allows devices such as printers, scanners, keyboards, and cameras to connect with a computer. The protocol has been around for a long time—version 1.1 is already a decade old—so there are few computers around that don’t have at least one USB port on them. And as always, technology doesn’t just wait around, and version 3.0 will likely arrive in 2008.

To take advantage of all that the newest printers and scanners have to offer, it's important that your computer has a USB 2.0 connection. If it doesn’t, the devices will still function (2.0 is backwards compatible with the previous version, 1.1, found on many older computers), but not as smoothly or quickly.

Older Versions of USB

If you plug a new printer or scanner into an older, pre-2.0 version of USB, it's very likely you’ll get a message on your screen saying something like, "This device can perform faster," or "High-speed USB device plugged into non-high-speed USB hub." If so, you should still be able to use the device. However, you’re going to sacrifice some speed (2.0 works as much as 10 times faster than 1.1), so it might be time to start looking at a new computer. If you’re using a hub that allows multiple devices to plug into a single USB port, you might also get the same message; in that case, try plugging the printer or scanner directly into the computer to get better speed.

Or, if you’re happy with what you’ve got and aren’t afraid of doing some tinkering with your computer’s innards, you can try installing a high-speed USB port into your desktop or laptop.

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