This review will focus on the use of the HP JetDirect en3700 (Ethernet
to USB print server) to drive a HP LaserJet 3030 AiO/MFP from MacOS X
(10.4 but also tested with MacOS X 10.3) systems. Much of the review
remains relevant to users of other OS such as Windows.J7942A
J7942G

Market: SOHO; this is HP's so-called enterprise Ethernet to USB print
server. I say so-called because enterprise printers have come with
builtin or internal Ethernet adapters since before USB was commercially
sold. HP also sells (or sold) lower-end Ethernet to USB print servers
(e.g. 175x) but they lacked some of the features of this model. For
example, I am pretty sure the 175x can't access the multifunction
capabilities of the LaserJet 3030.

Pros: Does its job! Plus lots of protocol support, lots of controls
and security features
Cons: Older firmware had some quirks, can't change mDNS (Bonjour)
domain name, expensive through retail

The biggest hassle was the configuration. My unit (manufactured
03/2005) came bundled with firmware A.25.86. This firmware was not
stable. It couldn't DHCP with either of the two routers I tried and
then defaulted to a strange IP address.

Instead of defaulting to the standard Auto IP config range
(169.254.x.x), it defaulted to some "Legacy IP range." In order to fix
this, I had to connect the en3700 directly to my laptop's Ethernet
port, let the en3700 fall back to using its Legacy IP range, print a
configuration page, then statically configure my laptop to use an
address in the en3700's legacy IP range. Only then could I access the
en3700's web server, configure for a static IP address on my normal
subnet, and then reset my laptop and restore everything. Maybe HP's
JetDirect tools for Windows can bypass IP and just look for JetDirects
by Ethernet, but otherwise, this user-unfriendliness would have baffled
every non-techie I know.

The mDNS/Bonjour servlet in this firmware must have been unstable
because this unit just tended to disappear from my Bonjour browser
after a few hours. Again, something easy enough to work around with
using static IPs -- if you know what you're doing.

The latest firmware for this model, V.28.19.FF, works much better.
Once I updated to that version, the unit worked perfectly with my DHCP
server. Also, the mDNS server stopped disappearing. Last, it added
some additional Web Scan features (previously, Web Scan was JPEG only
but the new firmware adds support for TIFF and PDF).

The en3700 supports a lot of protocols. In addition to TCP/IP, it also
supports the IPX/SPX, DLC/LLC, and AppleTalk network protocols. I did
not test any of those. Under TCP/IP, it supports printing via
JetDirect/9100, LPD, FTP, and IPP. It supports DHCP, WINS,
mDNS/Bonjour, SLP, and RCFG configuration/management protocols. It
support SNMP (and when disabled, some HP tools won't find it). It can
also log remotely via SYSLOG. In addition to the web interface, it can
be configured through a TELNET session. It also claims support for
multicast IPv4, but I did not test that either. Last, when connected
to a multifunction/all-in-one, it can scan and then e-mail documents
directly through an SMTP server.

For enterprise users, it supports networks with 802.1x authentication
as well as SNMPv3, authentication and identify certificates, access
lists, and mandatory HTTP encryption up to 168-bit 3DES. For 802.1x
authentication, they went with PEAP. It does not appear to support
encrypted print jobs, but I have never had the need for that anyway.

I was surprised that I can't change the mDNS/Bonjour Domain Name. It
is fixed at NPI######.local. where ###### are the last 6 digits of the
unit's Ethernet address. The mDNS/Bonjour Service Name defaults to hp
LaserJet 3030 [######] but it can be changed. The Service Name is what
you see in the Bonjour browser. The Domain Name is the name you can
give to non-Bonjour aware applications that let them find the device.
For example, Safari can pull up the en3700's web interface with
"http://npi######.local." The value of this is that you could set the
unit for completely dynamic IP and then only refer to it using the mDNS
Domain Name. In practice, most people are get by with a) static IP
addresses, b) static IP addresses and static DNS entries, or c) dynamic
DNS/DHCP.

While the en3700 is designed to work with HP printers, it should work
with any printer that understands at least one of PCL, ASCII,
PostScript, or HPGL2. It comes preconfigured with 4 LPD queues
including RAW, TEXT, AUTO, and BINPS. Additional LPD queues can also
be defined. It can communicate with USB printers in either
unidirectional, bidirectional, or Multiple Logical Channels modes.

Performance of the unit was good though I did not get quite the same
performance as when the printer was connected directly to my computer.
Its possible that its not even the en3700 fault but I am not able to
investigate this right now. When paired with something like the
LJ3030, getting data to the printer is not the bottleneck.for most
jobs.

Rough numbers for printing a single 42MB PostScript file (containing a
not very efficiently encoded image):

Mac (USB2.0) -> LJ3030 (USB1.1) via Apple USB: 2.0 min
Mac (USB2.0) -> LJ3030 (USB1.1) via HP Communications.app: 2.5min
Mac (100Mbit) -> en3700 (100Mbit/USB2.0) -> LJ3030 (USB1.1) via
Apple/CUPS LPD: 3.0min
Mac (100Mbit) -> en3700 (100Mbit/USB2.0) -> LJ3030 (USB1.1) via
Apple/CUPS 9100: 3.0min
Mac (100Mbit) -> en3700 (100Mbit/USB2.0) -> LJ3030 (USB1.1) via
Apple/CUPS IPP: 3.5min

Note that when a Mac connects to an en3700-driven printer via Bonjour,
it selects the LPD protocol. On the other hand, HP's drivers for the
LJ3030 configure printing to run over JetDirect/9100. Either way
appears to provide the same performance, but MacOS X's LPD
implementation provides additional queuing progress reports.

Overall, I've been very happy with the en3700. It offers more options
than I need and hasn't failed me since I configured it. However, it
retails for $300. That's a lot to drive a $500 printer like the
LaserJet 3030. It really a lot when Brother retails a laser
multifunction with builtin networking for $300. I bought the en3700
used for $70 (total) off Ebay and have seen Buy-It-Now prices of
$70-$90 new (brown bag) on Ebay. I am happy with the value at that
price.