Axis 5600 Network Print Server
Whether your office has a client/server or peer-to-peer network, setting up a network printer can be an excruciating exercise for non-experts. The Axis 5600 Network Print Server is a network-attached device that practically installs itself. Our only qualms about the device concern its questionable support of certain hubs and its overall practicality. In this era of bargain basement computers and network cards, it may make better economic sense to opt for a PC print server, but that depends on the technical skill and amount of free time you have.
The Axis 5600 is a paperback-sized server that uses a standard 10/100BaseT interface. It manages print jobs coming off the network and uses internal cache to spool jobs to the printer. Barring any compatibility issues with your hub, it automatically configures itself on the network.
A typical setup is simple. Once the printers are attached to the network, the Axis is connected to the network hub, and the AC adapter is plugged in. The network should instantly recognize the server, and automatically configure its IP address. All that's left to do is install the specific drivers for your attached printers, and you're done.
A steady green light on the Axis indicates the power is on, an intermittent orange light shows network connectivity, and a tiny recessed button lets users output a test page.
While the Axis 5600 works flawlessly with the majority of hubs, we were completely unable to get it to operate with our off-brand hub, even using the utilities that ship with the server.
As easy and convenient as the Axis 5600 is, its $300 price is almost as much as a stripped-down PC with a cheap network card. If all you want is a print server that is easy to set up and hassle-free, you can't do better than the Axis 5600.
But if you don't mind going through a standard network installation and want more bang for your buck, then configuring a cheap PC as your network server is a better choice.