Patrick Marshall answers your personal technology questions each week.
Q: I received a note explaining that Windows 10 Update 1803 has shut down my network Homegroup, but that if I want to share a printer I can do so without a Homegroup. After going through the provided instructions, my second computer can’t find my host computer.
I have turned on network sharing and discovery. I turned on file and printer sharing on both my host and second PCs. Still, the second PC does not print.
Do I still need to set up a network (but without a Homegroup)?
— Steve Lehman, Shoreline
A: Most printers on the market today offer both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, as well as Ethernet and USB ports. If you want to use the printer without any type of network you would need to connect via the USB port or by connecting directly to the printer using Bluetooth, assuming your computer supports Bluetooth.
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To connect via Ethernet or Wi-Fi will require a minimal network, though the note you received was correct in that you don’t need to set up a Windows Homegroup to share the printer. But the printer itself has to be connected to the network. It’s not enough to physically connect the printer to a computer that is connected to the network. It sounds like that’s how you’re set up.
You don’t mention whether you’re running a Wi-Fi network. That is the simplest way to share printers. If you do have a Wi-Fi network, you need to follow your printer’s directions to connect it to the Wi-Fi router. Once you have done so, when you’re using any computer that is also connected to the network it should automatically “see” the printer when you try to add a printer using the Devices and Printers utility in the Control Panel.
Q: I just bought a Belkin wireless charger. I am a little disappointed as it is not as fast as connecting your phone to a cable. The phone gets hot after a while and it seems like it takes much longer for a full charge than simply charging through a cable connection. So I would like to ask you how effective and reliable is a wireless charger.
— Shao Loung Lee
A: I’ve found that the wireless charger for my Samsung phone doesn’t do the job as quickly as connecting it by power cord to a wall socket. That said, I still like the wireless charger since it’s a lot more convenient. I can simply set it on the charger that sits on my desk and should the phone ring I don’t have to disconnect the phone to answer it. I just pick it up. Another advantage of the wireless charger is that you’re not going to wear out the charger port on the phone. I’ve had phones that had ports so worn that I had to carefully position the cord to get it to keep charging. While both methods of charging are reliable, I guess in that one respect the wireless charger is more reliable.
Q: Xfinity is selling xFi pods that extend Wi-Fi coverage in a home that uses Xfinity internet service. You simply plug them into electrical outlets strategically around the house. Cost is $120 for 3 pods or $200 for 6 pods. They would help extend my Wi-Fi coverage to my patio and garage. I wonder how well they work, and if there will be a loss of signal strength near the modem and/or decrease in download speed. Can you comment on any pros and cons of the xFi pods?
A: I’ll be honest, I’ve generally been disappointed with the performance of Wi-Fi extenders. That said, if your house is so big — or has multiple floors, lots of walls and possible radio-wave interference — that you don’t have adequate Wi-Fi coverage from the router alone, it may be your best option. Since I haven’t tested the xFi pods I can’t make a comparative recommendation. But why not give it a try? According to Comcast, you can return the product if it doesn’t do the job sufficiently.