BERG's Little Printer became available for sale today at £199 (plus P&P) for a 'Starter Pack'. As well as the printer, the package also includes an additional device:
BERG Cloud Bridge sits by your broadband router and wirelessly connects Little Printer to the web, which makes it easy for you to place Little Printer where you can see it.
This is an interesting design decision - it's a box that creates its own private wireless network (the exact standard used isn't specified - it could be a standard wi-fi network, or something more like Bluetooth or the networking system that the XBee uses).
One can only speculate as to why the printer doesn't just connect to your existing home wi-fi network, but I can think of a few possible reasons:
- That would require some way of telling the printer your network's name and password (e.g. using an Ethernet cable), which is fiddly.
- The hardware chip to connect to wi-fi networks might be more expensive than the chip for connecting to whatever kind of wireless network it is they're using.
- The Bridge might actually be doing more than simply creating a wireless network - perhaps it's doing some of the actual processing work.
Introducing a proprietary device just to get a printer talking to the internet does seem like a backward step that ought not to be necessary, but as Alex has pointed out, screen-less wi-fi devices are tricky to set up and there's no established mechanism.
The fact that the bridge is called the 'BERG Cloud Bridge' rather than the 'Little Printer Bridge' suggests that the company is already planning future products which could also connect to the single bridge device. And if the wireless network chosen is lower power than standard wi-fi, it could even be battery powered.
Little Wall Clock anyone?