A printer must have a compatible interface with the computer to print. Typically, printers connect to home computers using a parallel, USB, or wireless interface. Printers may connect to a network using a network cable or a wireless interface.
Serial data transfer is the movement of single bits of information in a single cycle. A serial connection can be used for dot matrix printers because the printers do not require high-speed data transfer.
Parallel data transfer is faster than serial data transfer. Parallel data transfer moves multiple bits of information in a single cycle. The data transfer path is wider than the serial data transfer path, allowing data to move more quickly to or from the printer.
IEEE 1284 is the standard for parallel printer ports. Enhanced Parallel Port (EPP) and Enhanced Capabilities Port (ECP) are two modes of operation within the IEEE 1284 standard that allow bidirectional communication.
Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) uses parallel communication technology to achieve high data-transfer rates.
USB is a common interface for printers and other devices. When a USB device is added to a computer system that supports plug-and-play, the device is automatically detected and starts the driver installation process.
FireWire, also known as i.LINK or IEEE 1394, is a high-speed communication bus that is platform independent. FireWire connects digital devices such as digital printers, scanners, digital cameras, and hard drives.
FireWire allows a peripheral device, such as a printer, to plug directly into a computer. It also allows the device to be hot-swappable. FireWire provides a single plug-and-socket connection that can attach up to 63 devices. FireWire has a data transfer rate of up to 400 Mb/s.
Connecting a printer to the network requires cabling that is compatible with both the network and the network port installed in the printer. Most network printers use an RJ-45 interface to connect to a network or wireless interface.