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Thursday, 16 April 2009

Why is Wi-Fi still so hard??? And long live the USB cable!

You would think that somebody who has been writing about wireless technology for 10 years would know their way around a piece of kit, wouldn't you?

Well, today's experience proves otherwise.

Why? Well, I bought a new HP all in one printer, scanner fax thingy this week, and for the first time I had the option to print over a Wi-Fi connection. I already have a Wi-Fi router and my laptop accesses my broadband connection using that. No problem.

So, you would think that in this day and age it would be fairly simple to hook up a laptop and printer via Wi-Fi. It is heck as like! I've now spent two and a half hours trying to make this work and am still getting nowhere.

I can hear you saying - RTFM - well I have, and that didn't help because I don't have a degree in computer engineering and this FM would be no help to anyone with less than that level of expertise. Try the HP web site, you say. I did, I say. And got nowhere. Salvation seemed to be at hand when I saw that there was a link to a page where I could actually speak to somebody on the phone. Perfect! Just what I wanted. Doubtless I would have to pay somebody to tell me how their piece of kit should work (don't you just think that is criminal?), but I don't mind. I've already wasted a huge chunk of my day trying to achieve what should be a simple task. But no - when I click on the link the HP site just freezes, the progress bar stops at two green boxes and the message says at the bottom says 'waiting to connect to ....'. AAAAGGGGHHHH!!!! I often think these companies just don't want to have to face up to their responsibilities as happens when they get a frustrated punter on the phone. Yes, I've seen the stats about how one tech support call to a network operator wipes out the profit on the customer's cellular bill for several months. So they make it as difficult as possible, or even impossible.

It is a travesty that this type of equipment is foisted on the unsuspecting public without proper support. In Incisor last month the WPANel exec committee all talked about the marketing of wireless technology. I think there are still a lot of industry execs out there who are kidding themselves if they think enough is being done to help ordinary people use consumer electronics, and in my case particularly wireless technology.

So, I will continue using my new printer via a USB cable. And the blue Wi-Fi light on the printer (didn't Bluetooth grab the rights on blue LEDs?) will continue to stare balefully at me from across the desk.

There is a lot of work to be done, wireless marketeers.

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