Do all New Printers use USB?!?

My parent’s home has a number of old computers networked together. Most of the computers are running NT 4. I was browsing the website of the local BestBuy equivilent in Canada (I think BB is cropping up here too but they’re not established yet) and it seems all the printers I could find use USB2. NT 4 does not support USB, and so I think, Houston, we have a problem?!

Does HP (the brand we’d like to buy I think) still make any printers that use the old printer cable thingy? What about Network printers, could that be a solution? If we bought a network printer would it just plug directly into our hub or router via Cat5 and thus negage the need for a USB2 compliant box?


          - B. R.

The ‘old cable thingy’ is a paralell cable. (or ‘printer cable’) I’m pretty sure you can buy converters (usb to paralell) for cheap.

I bought a HP 5850 color inkjet recently. It was about $125 or so. It has USB, Cat-5 and wireless (802.11b) connectivity. It’s awesome because with the wireless, you can put the printer anywhere it is convienient. Mine is on top of the 'fridge. :smiley:

But the Cat-5 ethernet could be just what you need.

A network printer will work for you, and it does sound like your simplest answer. I use HP’s PSC2510 and I love it. It is a little slow, but I dont print much anyways. Check out their 2610 and 2710 models, too. I only mention them because you said you favored HP.

Wireless printer, now there’s a thought.

Most of the converters I’ve seen cost more than a parallel cable, if not more than a printer! (The price of cartidges is another story…) Most adapters are also designed to convert a parallel printer to a USB port, rather than the other way around.

I would recommend looking for a used or refurbished parallel printer, which would probably be cheaper than buying a USB-parallel adapter. Or possibly upgrading at least one of the computers to Windows 2000, which would support a USB printer, which could then be shared to the rest of the network. Doing a network printer could also work, but would be more expensive than buying new OS software.

Eeek, lotsa scary info, I hope you’re wrong.

The converter cable I would need is more expensive than a printer?!? Source?

You can often pick up barely used HP 800 or 900 series inkjet printers at practically any thrift store for 5-10 each. I've got 3 perfectly working HP 1100 laser's I got for 15 each and a HP 5L laser I got for $ 10.

Get thee to a thrift!

My folks are both self-employed professionals and so this is a very important printer, can’t risk a used printer because printers break quite easily.

Can they add another computer running 98, 2000 or XP to the network?

If so you can put the USB printers on that system and print over the newtork.

Well since you asked, they do have some computers with XP and OS X, but the doctor prints the most so she gets the printer in her (home) office, which does have have the space or any use for another computer running one of those operating systems.

So I still need to find an NT-4 compliant solution, which which will apparently use something called a ‘port emulator’ (I’ve yet to find proof of a single product made for this purpose) which is a fancy converter thing that costs around $100. Still cheaper than a network printer if I’m not mistaken.

I believe this will do what you are looking for. noit that I’ve ever heard of this comapny or tried their products,

Check the fine print on the printers. You may well find that some of them have a printer cable connection available as well. I recently helped a client with a printer (can’t remember the model) that had USB in big letters on the box, but had a standard printer cable connector also. Didn’t come with a cable, though - had to buy one of those seperately.

MannyL, that device does exactly the opposite of what he wants (it is used for connecting old-school printers to computers that have USB, whereas he wants to connect a new-school USB printer to a computer that doesn’t support USB). It won’t work both ways.

Anyway, another suggestion is to get a standard USB printer, plus a USB print server (Netgear makes one that’s about 50 bucks). You plug the print server into the network, then plug the printer into the print server, and configure all your computers to print via a network printer instead of a locally-attached one.

      • Look around for B-2-B computer sellers in the nearest big city–they should be able to order you a brand-new parallel-cable printer, no problem. I don’t mean go to the place that sells Dells–a B-2-B dealer will sell everything for computers out of a warehouse, 99% of what they have is whitebox/OEM, and if you have an account, they will normally arrange delivery. Lots of businesses are still running older OS’s and need this stuff, and also things that the general consumer market has long forsaken–like dot-matrix printers. Businesses still using contact multicopy forms still need them, and business computer dealers can get them.
  • Of course, it wouldn’t be a new printer, however. It would be a newly-manufactured model from several years back. But that’s the nature of running old beasts, scooter. And quite possibly–a legit copy of XP Home might very well cost you less than a niche-market printer. Are you married to NT here?

Agreed. AFAIK, the only devices that simply plug into a pc to give it USB ports are internal PCI cards; I was looking for alternative solutions to this problem a while back and there really doesn’t seem to be any other way of adding USB ports. Several Parallel>USB devices were mentioned and/or proposed, but if they ever existed, they have fallen by the wayside.

From HP’s website:

HP Deskjet 5650 Printer
HP Business Inkjet 1200 Printer series
HP Business Inkjet 2300 Printer
HP Business Inkjet 3000 Printer
HP Color Inkjet cp1700 printer series
HP Business Inkjet 1100 printer series
HP Business Inkjet 2300 printer series
HP Deskjet 6122 printer series

Or you can go to HP’s website and use the “help me choose a printer” thing to find a printer.

The main thing seems to be that you have to get away from the low-end consumer printers sold at places like Best Buy.
I think I would prefer either a network capable printer, or a printer connected to the mini print server ntucker suggested. It would save the PC the printer would have been attached to from having to deal with the extra work.


This is the cheapest HP inkjet I could find on their website with parallel connectivity.

Obviously this won’t come with the parallel (or USB, for that matter) lead, but they’re relatively cheap (despite HP wanting to sell you one for $18!).

It’s worth bearing in mind that they’ll only have the latest models on their website so if you shop around (I don’t know what an American equivalent of Ebuyer is) you’ll probably be able to find something cheaper that has a parallel port.

**Edit - Oops, too slow :smack: **

Nothing to add, except for "here’s another vote for USB print server, assuming that you can find an NT driver for it that won’t freak out when you try to install it ('cos of the USB thing).