This article discusses host-based printers, providing some brief background along with information on their advantages and disadvantages and what the HPLIP software can (and cannot) deliver to support these devices.
Printer Language Backgrounder
Most HP printers, MFP's and AiO's use either Printer Command Language (PCL) or Postscript (PS) language protocols to control and format the print data from host (PC) to printer. However, there are a number of low-cost printers from HP that employ host-based protocols. These host-based printers rely on the power of the host computer for much of the print stream formatting in contrast to PCL and PS printers which contain the necessary computing power for this formatting. The development of host-based printers has allowed lower-cost printers to be brought to market.
Host-based printers are often referred to as GDI printers, Win-printers or Sleek printers and though there are significant technical differences between those names, it is beyond the scope of this article to describe those differences.
HP inkjet-based products use two different host-based protocols listed on HP inkjet printer data sheets: Printer Performance Architecture (PPA) and Lightweight Imaging Device Interface Language (LIDIL). Often, the data sheet – especially for LaserJet products - may simply refer to the protocol as “host-based”.
Host-based inkjet products
The PPA protocol used on HP Deskjet Series Printers 710c, 712c, 720c, 820c, 1000c, 3300c, and 3400c was one of the first host-based architectures and was introduced in the mid 1990’s. LIDIL architecture appeared around 2000 and has been used on over 200 inkjet printer models as of this writing. A complete list of LIDIL printers can be found here: Host Based Printer List
PPA printers were never supported with HPLIP, nor are there plans to do so. This is primarily due to the age of the devices using PPA and is in line with HP’s strategy to cease support of very old products. HPLIP can be used on all LIDIL products (as of this writing). However, in line with the aforementioned support statement, some of the older LIDIL printers, while continuing to have a solution available via HPLIP, will no longer be updated/fixed should a problem be found.
Most Linux customers may find LIDIL printers to provide very good cost/value since these printers work well with HPLIP for the majority of print jobs. However, for Linux customers who require the highest level of print speed and quality (matching the published specs for these LIDIL devices) these LIDIL printers matched with HPLIP may not meet their needs. We recommend those customers purchase a PCL or PostScript-based inkjet or LaserJet product.