A new mobile printer from Printronix proudly trumpets that it has Diversity. Diversity? What the heck does that mean, that it can be used by men and women, it's not prejudiced? Well no its none of these. Diversity in this context is about WiFi Diversity, a hidden radio technology that is increasingly being used in industrial WiFi devices and which can have big benefits in many manufacturing and warehouse businesses. Most WiFi used on Laptops, pads and even mobile phones, has a single radio antenna that connects to the nearest local Access Point (AP). Most homes have only one AP and many offices will only have a few APs scattered around. But in a large manufacturing or warehouse environments, there could be many many APs allowing the WiFi network to span the whole business and It is in these multi-access point spaces that WiFi Diversity can become Important.
Most ordinary WiFi devices use a single radio antenna to connect to the most powerful AP it is authorised to use and the device will only look for another AP when the current signal becomes unacceptably low. This can lead to the loss of WiFi while the device negotiates with the next AP for access to the network and while this can be irritating if you are looking at a web page or downloading e-mail it can be catastrophic it your device is doing real-time transactions on your ERP or if the device is a mobile printer trying to print business critical barcode labels. The solution, you guessed it, WiFi Diversity!
Here the device has two antennas and talks to the first AP while secretly negotiating with other "next connection" APs in the background. So when the WiFi signal from the current AP becomes too weak the swap to the next AP is seamless and instant. Printronix is the first manufacturer to recognise that many mobile printers are now used in highly dynamic environments, attached to fork trucks and industrial vehicles or being used by a worker who is highly mobile. The M4L2 has a number of other enhancements, an extended life battery as standard giving over 10 hours life, beefed up rugged construction and ZPL and CPCL languages as standard.
Full details about the Printronix M4L2 can be found on the Barcode-IT web site or watch the video above for a quick overview.