IBM has introduced what it called a "plug-and-print" wireless Lan adapter to support enterprise network printing on high-volume machines.
Mark Andrews, vice president of worldwide marketing for IBM printing systems, said the Wi-Fi printing adapter shows how the IBM printer product line offers enterprise users wider choices than the line of printers introduced yesterday by Dell.
Andrews dismissed Dell's printers as "entry-level" models focused on consumers and the low end of the enterprise market. IBM, which buys its printers from a number of suppliers, including Hitachi and Ricoh, offers an entry-level enterprise model priced at $639 (£407) with a maximum output of 45 pages per minute (ppm), slighty more than double the 22 ppm of the Dell workgroup printers manufactured by Lexmark International .
Those printers have a base price of $499.
Andrews said the hardware cost of printers is only a small part of the overall cost of an enterprise printer, with larger, networked machines more cost effective than a series of smaller machines scattered about offices.
Paul Preo, IBM's group line manager for workgroup printers, said the Wi-Fi printer adapter, which is priced at $212, would make it easier for enterprises to hook up users to a networked printer, adding that the Wi-Fi adapter would help companies "starved" for Ethernet ports connect network devices as well as organisations located in environments where it is difficult to install wired network printer connections.
Greg Davis, director of sales and marketing for the Dell printer group, declined to say whether his company would introduce wireless printers.