Tag: WiFi Direct

Product Review–Brother PT-P750W Wireless Label Printer


I am reviewing the Brother PT-P750W Wireless Label Printer which is the first portable label printer to be designed to work with smartphones and tablets.This is brought about using integrated Wi-Fi wireless network connectivity with Wireless-Direct (own access-point) operation along with the ability to work with a mobile-platform label printing app.

Brother P-Touch PT-P750W Wireless Label Printer

Price (Printer unit): AUD$249

The printer itself

Brother P-Touch PT-P750W wireless label printer with Samsung Android smartphone

This is what this Brother label printer is all about

The Brother PT-P750W Wireless Label Printer has “three-way” power where it can work from AC power via a supplied AC adaptor, 6 AA batteries or an optional rechargeable battery pack. If you run it on the AA batteries, you can only connect to it using the USB cable which limits its printing abilities to laptop computers or tablets running the “regular” Windows or MacOS X operating systems.

It uses the TZe series of P-Touch thermal label tapes which snap in to the Brother labeller in a manner not dissimilar to an audio cassette tape. Here, you have a wide variety of label tapes that can suit the different situations ranging from coloured labels through tamper-evident labels even to waterproof labels.


Label printed by Brother PT-P750W printer from Samsung smartphone

Light-switch label turned out by the above-illustrated setup

This machine can be connected directly to a regular computer via the USB cable or can be connected to regular computers or mobile computer devices via an existing Wi-Fi network segment or Wi-Fi Direct link. This includes the ability for Android phones that have an NFC connection and the Brither iPrint&Label app to “touch and go” for printing. As for the existing Wi-Fi segments, this can work with small networks that implement pre-shared key methods like WEP or WPA-PSK or can sign in to enterprise networks with a username and password. In these situations, if the network segment doesn’t implement WPS “push-to-connect” functionality, you have to use a regular computer running Brother’s “Printer Setting Tool” which you download from Brother’s Website and connect the printer to the computer via a USB cable to supply to the printer the parameters for the Wi-Fi segment you intend to have this printer work with.

Brother P-Touch PT-P750W wireless label printer - label cassette bay

Uses TZe label cassettes

This network functionality can only work if the printer is connected to AC power or the optional lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack. As well, it doesn’t implement the web-based “own-access-point” Wi-Fi setup that is common of a lot of wireless devices for integration with existing Wi-Fi segments. This may not be an issue with those of you who would keep this machine in the back of the van, ready to turn out labels as needed. If you have a device that doesn’t support NFC “touch-and-go” connectivity, you just need to turn on Wi-Fi and the printer will go in to Wi-FI Direct mode if it isn’t connected successfully to the

If you are printing from your smartphone or tablet, you would need to use the Brother iPrint&Label app to turn out the labels. This app worked well with my Samsung Android smartphone and it didn’t take long for me to link the smartphone up directly to this device and turn out a test label. It worked very well with a clean easy-to-use interface that allows you to get the job done.

Personally, I would have liked this app to support the ability for one to supply network connectivity information to the printer using that app’s interface as well as being able to print direct. Using a flashing Wi-Fi light to indicate Wireless Direct can have us think that something is going wrong even though the steady NFC light to indicate connection can lead to operator confusion. Rather, I would implement a dual-colour LED for the Wi-Fi light to indicate “infrastructure connection successful” in green and “Wireless Direct connection successful” in red or yellow. As well, have the light flash during connection establishment.

Label Quality

The labels have come out of the Brother PT-P750W labeller very crisply and clearly even when I have used the iPrint&Label app.  The app even implemented “right-sized” labelling to fit multiple-line text on the same piece of tape.

Usage Notes

Brother P-Touch PT-P750W Wireless label printerI used this device at the church I attend to help one of the men who is a licensed electrician and does the AV and electrical work for that congregation to turn out a label for the external-lighting switch. Here, I found that the Brother PT-P750W “tries” for my home network and doesn’t immediately fall over to Wireless Direct behaviour every time it is powered up. Personally, I would like to have a switch on the unit that enforces Wireless-Direct as an operation mode there and then, in a similar way to some of the Pioneer wireless speakers that have a switch on the unit to enforce this mode, and this mode is highlighted by the Wi-Fi light changing to a different colour to indicate “independent” wireless-network operation.

The man’s wife was intrigued by the way the Brother PT-P750W operates with a smartphone like his iPhone so as to make better use of that phone through the day. I had explained to the man how the device worked where he used his iPhone or iPad to label switches and outlets and he was even approaching me regarding how much it cost.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

An accessory that may be nice to have and may gain traction with this device’s target market would be a DC power adaptor. This would plug in to a vehicle’s cigar-lighter socket to allow this unit to be powered or charged from the vehicle’s 12-volt circuitry. Here it would earn its keep with those of us who work out of the back of a van by allowing us to charge the Brother label printer’s rechargeable battery while we are driving between jobs or locations, or have the unit working with the full wireless abilities and printing from our smartphones when we are preparing labels in the back of the van but without needing to have the optional rechargeable battery or compromising the battery’s runtime.

Another accessory that Brother could supply, whether “in the box” or as an optional extra, is a matching fitted carry-bag or road-case for this printer where the printer, its AC adaptor, a USB cable and a few label cassettes can be kept safely while it is taken “on the road”. Here, it also provides a single known place for the machine and these accessories so you don’t lose anything easily as you take it between locations.

As I have said before. the Brother software could support the ability to use one of their labellers to create a calibrated measuring tape. This could come in handy when you want to make a surface become a reference for measuring an item’s length or height.


I would pitch the Brother PT-P750W at electricians and other tradesmen along with maintenance departments who place value on using a smartphone or tablet to turn out labels as part of the job. The fact that it can work as its own Wi-Fi wireless segment as well as working with an existing Wi-Fi wireless network increases its portability even more because you don’t have to pair your mobile device or this printer with an existing Wi-Fi wireless network.

For that matter, I would see this machine as a viable tool rather than a toy. If you are intending to use the Brother PT-P750W Wireless Label Printer “on the road”, I would recommend that you purchase the rechargeable battery pack and have this set up for Wireless Direct exclusively for a truly portable setup with your mobile device.

Wi-Fi Direct to implement task-specific improvements


Wi-Fi group acts to simplify peer-to-peer video, printing and other tasks | PC World

From the horse’s mouth

WI-Fi Alliance

Press Release

My Comments

A current limitation that faces anyone who uses Wi-Fi Direct peer-to-peer networking is that the users have to face many steps to take advantages of the devices they connect to. This typically includes being able to discover the device, what it does and how it can do it, such as printing abilities or display resolution. In the case of Miracast-capable displays, this may also include “opening up” the input associated with the Miracast functionality to have the computer’s display on that display screen.

The Wi-Fi Alliance have revised the Wi-Fi Direct specifications to provide task-focused operation with the equivalent of class drivers. This is although there are standards like the UPnP Device Control Protocols out there to enable this functionality and this revision is to specifically enable “one-touch” access to the device’s function.

At the moment, the Alliance have defined four specifications:

  • Wi-FI Direct Send – for sending and receiving content with minimal user interaction
  • Wi-Fi Direct Print – to print quickly from mobile device with minimal interaction
  • Wi-Fi Direct for DLNA – to make it quick to discover DLNA-capable resources like the wireless speakers to play content through these devices
  • Miracast – to allow for screen mirroring and use of an external display

A good question is whether these task-focused specifications only reflect on setups that implement the peer-to-peer connectivity offered by Wi-Fi Direct or whether they could extend to Wi-Fi LANs such as when you use a Mi-Fi device or home network.

At the moment, the new abilities can be applied to existing devices through the use of newer firmware versions because these abilities are offered on a software level rather than through newer hardware requirements. As well, Samsung and other Android vendors could integrate the NFC ability and the Wi-Fi Direct Send functionality to provide a platform-wide implementation of the “S Beam” file-sharing functionality.

HP offers a Wi-Fi Direct / NFC module for most existing business printers


HP LaserJet M1536dnf monochrome laser multifunction printer

HP LaserJet M1536dnf monochrome laser multifunction printer – now NFC and Wi-Fi Direct capable with a cheap module

HP outs NFC and wireless mobile printing solution for homes and offices | TechRadar

This little box adds NFC mobile printing to recent HP LaserJet, Officejet printers | PCWorld

HP Announces NFC Device For Printers | The Recycler

HP pousse le NFC sur presque toutes ses imprimantes | Le Monde Informatique (France – French language)

From the horse’s mouth


Product Sheet (PDF)

My Comments

HP have now cottoned on to the NFC “touch-to-print” model that Brother was involved along with the Wi-Fi Direct “own-access-point” printing model to allow people with mobile devices to print from their own devices without using the business’s main network.

But this is not about junking a perfectly-good printer that is still giving sterling service for your organisation. Instead it is in the form of a black box that connects to recent-issue compatible HP business printers, some of which I have reviewed here such as the Colour LaserJet Pro CM1415fnw multifunction printer, Colour LaserJet 400 Series printer, the LaserJet M1536dnf multifunction printer and the OfficeJet 150 mobile printer.

This device is in the form of a black box that connects to the printer’s USB port, has NFC “touch-and-go” print for Android and Windows 8, as well as the Wi-Fi Direct / own-access-point functionality which works with HP ePrint and with Apple’s AirPrint systems. HP’s larger “workhorse” printers and multifunctions have a similar option but this is in the form of a module that is installed in the existing printer on site. The device, known as the 1200w Mobile Printing Accessory is to be normally offered for USD$50 / EUR€36 but initially offered for USD$40/ EUR€29.

HP OfficeJet 150 mobile multifunction printer closed up

The HP OfficeJet 150 can be the fully-fledged mobile office with your iPad courtesy of the NFC Mobile Print module

The idea would be that if you aren’t keen on having clients or business partners marauding on your business network when they need hard copy from their mobile device, you have them use the separate printing network for their quick-run printing needs.

As for the OfficeJet 150, this accessory would allow one to create a “back-of-the-van” mobile office around their smartphone or tablet especially if the effort is to do away with the regular computing environment on the road. It is because the iOS and Android platforms with the HP-supplied or platform-native printing apps are intended to work with a Wi-Fi wireless network segment rather than the Bluetooth or USB connections this printer natively supports.

This is more about adding extra functionality to an existing device through the installation of an add-on module rather than replacing the existing device. It is a practice that is common to anyone who owns a hi-fi system or a TV, where they buy and connect extra equipment like CD players, tape decks, video recorders and DVD / Blu-Ray payers to add extra functionality to their existing systems. This avoids the need to do away with perfectly-good equipment to gain the extra functionality and, in some cases such as the video recorder, has added a lot more functionality like increased tuner capacity, stereo TV sound or remote control abilities.

This concept of offering the add-on devices can be seen as a way of effectively extending the life of most devices that are expected to put in a long service life and keeping their relevance to current needs and should never be tossed aside by device vendors.

Pioneer component Blu-Ray player now comes with Wi-Fi Direct

Article – From the horse’s mouth


New Pioneer Blu-ray 3D Player leads mobile device integration

My Comments

Pioneer BDP-160 Blu-Ray Player (Pioneer Europe press image)

Pioneer BDP-160 Blu-Ray player

The Pioneer BD-160 network-capable Blu-Ray player may be your ordinary mid-tier component Blu-Ray player with full DLNA and YouTube functionality. As well, it doesn’t have the full makeup of services like catch-up TV or video-on-demand which may limit its use as a “smart TV enabler” for existing TVs.

But, as well as being fully equipped with integrated Wi-Fi, the Pioneer BDP-160 is one of the first of these component-type / add-on players that implements Wi-Fi Direct which creates its own Wi-Fi network for use with smartphones and similar devices. This means that you don’t necessarily have to have the player and phone being part of your home network or deploy a Wi-Fi router for standalone use to “throw” images, music and video to the big screen or speakers if the content just resides on the mobile device.  This may not be possible if you are using another device like a NAS as a content server while managing the show with a DLNA control point or Pioneer’s control app on a mobile device. Oh yeah, it is equipped with the Ethernet connectivity so you can benefit from reliable video-streaming operation with your Ethernet or HomePlug AV wired backbone.

Like most video-focused network media devices, this Blu-Ray player requires use of the TV to play audio content but you could use Pioneer’s control apps for iOS and Android devices to control audio playback from the content pools that exist on your DLNA-capable NAS or your smartphone.

The Wi-Fi Direct functionality could easily be augmented with Miracast and WiDi to allow you to use this Blu-Ray player as a display “bridge” between your laptop or mobile device. If this is added, it could play in to the hands of small businesses and organisations who make use of consumer electronics to satisfy their AV needs. But DLNA can do this task if you are “throwing” digital images or video clips to the big screen. As for reasonably-priced projectors to use with this player, who knows when we could see one of these come with proper HDMI ability.

At least Pioneer is showing us that they can make a Blu-Ray player that works as an add-on network media player for the setups where you don’t want to integrate it as part of the established network.

Sony’s Personal Content Station–a mobile Wi-Fi NAS that you touch on with your Android phone


Sony’s Personal Content Station uses NFC for mobile backups, aims for April release in Japan

My Comments

I was impressed with the Sony Personal Content Station which is an elegant ceramic-white device that works as a 1Tb mobile NAS for your mobile devices and, perhaps, your home network.

One feature that stands out is to be able to use NFC-based pairing to permit device-to-NAS file transfer between an NFC-equipped Android handset or tablet and this device. Of course, it works as a Wi-Fi NAS for other devices and you can of course upload from a USB-connected device or dump the contents of your SD “digital film” card to this device.

There is the ability to show the content on a TV whether directly-connected via HDMI or via a DLNA network connection. Of course, a good question worth raising is whether the Personal Content Station could interlink with an existing home network as a media server / NAS or simply be one of many devices of this ilk that are their own network. This includes whether a Wi-Fi Direct transfer could occur while the Personal Content Station is connected to the home network.

Another question yet to be raised is whether “other” NFC-initiated Wi-Fi-Direct file transfer software like Samsung’s S-Beam could do the file-transfer job without the need to install Sony’s software. This could avoid the need to “crowd out” an Android phone with many of these apps to suit different devices. Similarly, I would prefer this device to support any DLNA “media-uploader / media-downloader” standards so you can move content between this device and similar devices; and your mobile handset or digital camera via Wi-Fi by using one piece of software.

The Wi-Fi network to be important in the car over the next five years


In-car wi-fi to boom over next five years – Manufacturers expected to introduce it as standard | TechEye

My Comments

Previously, I have covered the concept of the in-car network, mainly in the context of linking with another network like a home network so as to transfer entertainment content, maps and similar material to a hard disk in the vehicle. This also encompassed the ability for the vehicle to link to a wireless-broadband service for such purposes as obtaining “nearest available services” information or playing online media such as Internet radio to the car speakers. This extends to commercial and government applications where data can be obtained from the office while on the road and shown up on in-dash displays.

The next five years will see this becoming an important OEM and aftermarket feature for most cars. There have been some factory-supplied and aftermarket systems being presented which use a mobile phone as a Bluetooth-linked or USB-linked wireless-broadband modem with the processing in the dashboard or the dashboard as a control surface for the phone or certain apps within the phone. A few implementations use a wireless-broadband modem or modem-router (MiFi style) as an Internet link to the dashboard and the passengers’ devices.

It is perceived that Wi-Fi will be seen as another link to the car infotainment system for the smartphones and tablets to use. It would typically be implemented in the Wi-Fi Direct manner with the access point in the dashboard or the car being a client to an existing wireless network. This could allow concepts such as a smartphone being a DLNA media server for the car, the in-dash navigation being able to benefit from the address book that the smartphone or tablet has or rear-seat entertainment setups being auxiliary screens for a tablet thanks to Miracast.

But I have always seen it beyond the in-vehicle network that applies within the confines of a vehicle. Here, I have seen these networks link with stationary networks like home networks for syncing content to and from the vehicle or updating large amounts of data like maps while at home. Similarly, I would see the vehicle-based network interlink with a home network at a secondary location like a holiday home to do things like serving music to DLNA-capable AV devices for example.

This could be a very interesting trend to see just as we have seen in-car entertainment evolve over the last fifty years with technologies like tape and disc playback, radio reception, mobile telephony, satellite navigation and the like.

WiFi Direct–Another way to share files between Android devices


WiFi Shoot: Sharing files over Wi-Fi Direct | Android Authority

My Comments

The Android mobile phone platform has provided many options for “throwing” files between devices.

Firstly, there was the Bluetooth “object-push” profile where you can share material between devices that have this protocol and are set up for it. This includes Android and Symbian-based mobile phones and some devices like a few Bluetooth printers and printing kiosks.

There was the subsequent arrival of the “Bump” ecosystem which allowed you to transfer the files via Internet after you “bump” the phones next to each other. This implemented a “recognised bump” pattern to register users with this system.

Next the Android platform integrated Near-Field Communication as part of the Ice Cream Sandwich iteration and implemented the file transfer as a specific function called “Android Beam”. This was exemplified in the TV advertising that Samsung did for the popular Galaxy S II phone and Samsung’s “super variant” of that function where two people touched each others’ phones to each other.

Now that most newer Android devices come with Wi-Fi Direct, a new app has been launched to enable one to “throw” files between these devices using this method. The app which is called WiFi Shoot and is currently in beta version, exposes itself as a “share” option for images and videos and can transmit the images or videos; or receive any of these files.

There are plans to open it up to a larger array of content types once the bugs are ironed out of it. Similarly, it could support “throwing” of files to and from other non-Android devices that use Wi-Fi Direct as a file-transfer or object-transfer method such as printers that could print photos or Windows PCs that have the appropriate software.

I see this as another way that the Android platform is working towards a level and competitive playing field for activities involving mobile computing.

The Wi-Fi network is now relevant to the DJ’s table

Article – from the horse’s mouth

Pioneer presents the XDJ-AERO, the first-ever wireless all-in-one DJ system, and the first native player for rekordbox™ music management software

Product Page

My Comments

Pioneer has bridged the small network to the DJ table by releasing the XDJ-AERO which is an “all-in-one” DJ workstation that implements Wi-Fi wireless networking. This network ability exists mainly to allow the DJ to bring down music held on a regular PC or a mobile device and use it in his “set”.

It is compared to using the computer with its audio infrastructure connected to the DJ console and loaded with DJ playout software to play music held as files. Some users may augment this with a USB controller that has jog / shuttle dials to mimic the operation of a turntable or playing a special record on one of their turntables that is connected via a special computer interface module so that the turntable effectively becomes a jog dial.

The network can be set up with an existing 2.4GHz Wi-Fi g/n wireless network such as one operated by the premises or one provided by the DJ using his own wireless router. On the other hand, the XDJ-AERO could work as its own access point to the same credentials as Wi-Fi Direct. This could eliminate the need for a wireless router if the devices are kept close to each other and Internet access isn’t desired.

DJs who use this unit for bar or outdoor gigs should use the access point mode, but use the XDJ-AERO as a client for areas with a “known” network like practice work or private-home gigs.

The computer equipment including the smartphones or tablets would need to run Pioneer’s free “rekordbox” music-management software which is optimised for DJ work. This includes the ability to identify rhythm patterns in the music and keep details of factors like “beats per minute” which would be ideal for this kind of work. Because the requirement is that the network computing devices stream the music rather than transfer it as a file, the Pioneer XDJ-AERO is also optimised for high-reliability connections using a high-capacity buffer and the ability to identify and use a music loop to keep the beats going.

Luckily the Pioneer DJ ecosystem doesn’t just support the trendy Apple computing ecosystem. The software also supports Windows regular computers and Android mobile devices. It is also worth knowing that the XDJ-AERO can support four source computer devices, which can come in handy with a group of DJs who are performing their own sets on the same equipment, such as a wedding gig where one DJ with expertise on lounge or chillout music may play for the dinner while another DJ with dance-music expertise would play for the post-dinner dancing.

Those DJs who work across different media can benefit from this mixer by its ability to connect to two regular music sources. This means they could connect their Technics SL1200 “Wheels Of Steel” to work with vinyl or their Pioneer or Denon DJ CD players to work with CDs. It is also laden with plenty of digital effects that they can use on their music material through the programme.

This is a sign of things to come for the DJ industry who may benefit from the idea of using a computer and small network to play out music whether as a sole medium or as an ancillary medium.

Network-capable speaker units–now coming as a torrent

Revo Domino Internet radio

Revo Domino – an example of an Internet radio with DLNA Media Playback

Regular readers of this site would have noticed the Internet radios that I have reviewed earlier on. These were typically tabletop radios that had a broadcast tuner capable of receiving at least FM and / or DAB digital broadcast radio. But they had Wi-Fi and, in some cases, Ethernet network connectivity which allowed them access to, most commonly, the vTuner Internet-radio directory and the ability to play through audio content from any broadcaster that listed its stream in this directory. They also had the ability to play audio content held on a DLNA media server after it was selected on the set’s control surface.

Of course, all of these sets had a line input so they can amplify other audio equipment like portable CD players but most of them had a dock for one of Apple’s iPod or iPhone mobile devices. A few of the sets even had a USB connection so you can play music held on a USB memory key.

Now the network-audio direction is coming in the form of network-capable speaker units that have Apple Airplay and, increasingly, DLNA Media-Renderer operating mode. This meant that you could use software running to these protocols to play music held on a computer, smartphone or tablet through these systems as explained in this feature article. The network connectivity for all of them is Wi-Fi to 802.11g/n standards with WPS “push-push” setup but some of these units would have an Ethernet socket for connection to an Ethernet or HomePlug network segment and / or Wi-Fi Direct so they can become their own access point for smartphones and tablets.

The manufacturers are running a range of two or three units with similar functionality but having differing speaker configurations and / or power outputs with some having the capability to offer a “punchy” sound where that tight bass does exist. As well, one or two of the models in these ranges is equipped with a rechargeable battery pack and designed for portability so they can be used on the beach or on the streets in a similar manner to those classic “ghetto-blasters” of the 1980s.

Pioneer NAC-3 Internet radio and iPod dock

Pioneer NAC-3 Internet radio and iPod dock – capable of being controlled by a DLNA control point program

The device that predicted this level of functionality in a network speaker system was, in my opinion, the Pioneer XW-NAC3 speaker dock / Internet radio that I reviewed on this site. Here, it had Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity as well as support for Bluetooth A2DP audio streaming. But it used the network connectivity to play broadcast content from Internet-radio stations on the vTuner directory as well as being able to be controlled by a DLNA Media Control Point alongside the basic DLNA MediaPlayer “play-from-own-control-surface” functionality.

Usage Issues

A problem I have discovered with some DLNA server / control point software running on Android devices is that they won’t work properly if you run the device as its own access point. This would be something that you may do if you enable “Wi-Fi tethering” on your phone to share your phone’s Internet access and data allowance with other devices.

Here, you may have to work around this by using another access point to create the temporary Wi-Fi segment. This could be done using an ordinary Wi-Fi router, even one of those “Mi-Fi” devices that work as a router for a wireless-broadband service. This solution may come in to its own with the battery-driven units that don’t have Wi-Fi Direct and you want to play content from your mobile device or laptop.

Another situation that may plague anyone who sets these units up in premises with a public Wi-Fi hotspot is that they may not work properly with these hotspots. Here, most of these public-access networks would be set up for client isolation so that no other client devices can discover each other. As well, most such networks typically use a Web interface for provisioning the Internet service. This will typically make the network unusable for point-to-point use like media playback.

Instead, if you are using that network speaker system in that hotel room or serviced apartment which has a public-access or guest-access wireless hotspot, use a “MiFi” or a similar device to create a Wi-Fi network if the computer, smartphone or speaker system doesn’t support Wi-Fi Direct. Some Wi-Fi Direct setups like the Intel implementations used for laptop computers may allow you to work the temporary network in conjunction with the public-access network and bridge Internet data to this temporary network. This would come in handy with units that offer Internet-radio functionality like the Pioneer NAC-3 or the Denon Cocoon series.

What to look for with these speaker systems

I would make sure that if you are intending to use these network speaker system with a smartphone, tablet or PC, make sure that the unit works with DLNA and Apple AirPlay.

If the speaker unit that you are after doesn’t have Wi-Fi Direct, you may have to make sure you have it working with a wireless access point like your home network’s WiFi router or a “MiFi” when you are using it on a wireless network.

Also pay attention to the sound quality and the functionality of these speakers, especially if you buy units that you intend to use “at home”. As for portable units, look for anything that also works for durability especially if they are intended to be used on the beach or by the pool.

Once you choose the right network-capable speaker system for yourself or to give as a gift, you could then end up enjoying listening to them for a long time.

Understanding WiFi DIrect

There has been the desire to see IEEE 802.11-based Wi-Fi wireless networking work as one of the many  way of interlinking computer devices without wires.

The standard and preferred practice with this technology is to implement an access point which all data in the wireless-network segment, which is typically connected to an established wired network or the Internet.

But there is a desire to link these devices in a safe and secure way without using a hardware access point or router as an interlinking device. This would lead to a “wireless personal area network” for devices like cameras, printers, network media players and smartphones.

What is Wi-Fi Direct

Kingston Wi-Drive and Android smartphone

The Kingston Wi-Drive in this setting is an example of what Wi-Fi Direct is all about

A Wi-Fi Direct setup requires software in a client device like a computer or smartphone to make it work as an access point using its software. This can be made obvious through a smartphone running a “Wi-Fi tether” mode where it works as a Wi-Fi router using its wireless-broadband service as a WAN.  Similarly, a mobile-NAS device like the Kingston Wi-Drive is effectively supporting this function through the use of its own Wi-Fi access point. Another example is a laptop computer running Inte’s “My Wi-Fi” software to bridge its connection that it has with a public wireless hotspot to an Internet radio in order to allow it to pick up an Internet broadcast stream.

The setup would require that the network be secured using a WPA2-PSK security protocol and is able to be set up using WPS “push-push” or PIN setup methods. They also use UPnP and/or Bonjour to set themselves up for their functionality at higher levels of the protocol stack. This can allow a user to find devices that have particular functions like file transfer, media streaming or printing and is exploited in smartphone applications as a means of rapidly transferring large file clusters.

A Wi-Fi Direct device can host current Wi-Fi-based client devices like most consumer network printers as well as other Wi-Fi Direct devices. As well a cluster of devices hosted by a Wi-Fi Direct device is considered as a Wi-Fi Direct Group. This can represent a one-to-one relationship or a one-to-many relationship with the Wi-Fi Direct.

Some devices like laptops running Intel MyWiFi can be set up to support a concurrent link to a Wi-Fi network such as a home / small-business network or a wireless hotspot while being able to maintain a Wi-Fi Direct cluster.

How to go about using Wi-Fi Direct

Wi-Fi Personal-Area Network concept diagram

If you intend to set up a Wi-Fi Direct group, determine the main computing device that is in the group. This could be a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone that has this functionality. On the other hand, you could use a DLNA-enabled network-attached-storage that supports Wi-Fi Direct as the main device if you are, for example, playing tunes held on the NAS to something like the Sony CMT-MX750Ni music system.

Then enable the Wi-Fi Direct functionality on this device and connect the other devices using WPS or a pre-determined WPA-PSK password key.

The range of this network will be determined by the radio range that the Wi-Fi Direct “master” device can provide; and this may be small for a lot of battery-powered devices like handheld games. Some devices that use a non-Wi-Fi connection like Ethernet or HomePlug may break off this connection if they are working as a Wi-Fi direct “master” device.

Increasing the relevance of Wi-Fi Direct

Wi-Fi Direct can be used in digital cameras as a way of uploading photos to a Wi-Fi NAS or a laptop or simply using a laptop’s Internet connection for providing photos to a social network. It can also work well as an alternative to Bluetooth for printing or media playout; as well as a wireless link to desktop peripherals like keyboards and mice.

The Wi-Fi Direct technology can then come in to its own with local multiplayer multi-machine gaming whether this involves laptops, smartphones, tablets or handheld gaming consoles. A game publisher could write a game to support a multiplayer mode over a local network as well as an online environment. This then allows one to “verse” an opponent in a game wherever they are without it costing money in data charges or dealing with the login requirements that a hotspot may throw at the potential competitors.

Similarly, if a device does support Wi-Fi Direct as well as a wired connection, it could support an “extended-service-set” function so as to cater for environments where there is a problem with Wi-Fi coverage in certain areas.


Once you know what you are doing, you can make Wi-Fi Direct devices work properly for creating “as-needed” Wi-Fi networks for differing applications.