What is a Personal Area Network (PAN)

10. November 2012 05:00 by Calvin Yu in Technology News  //  Tags:   //   Comments

If you're looking for a convenient way to connect several computer users through one device, you should consider using a personal area network, or PAN. A personal area network is a small network that allows a group of computer users to connect through one person's setup. PAN technology is used in many situations, and there are many variations available. It's not limited to computers. You can connect a variety of devices to a personal area network. For example, this kind of network can be used to wirelessly send documents to a printer.

Printing Over a Personal Area Network

It's not unusual for people to have smartphones, laptops and other devices. Portable printers aren't quite as common, but more people are using them than ever. If you're going to use a portable printer, you'll definitely want to consider using a personal area network. With PAN technology, you can wirelessly connect all of your devices, which will allow you to send documents from your smartphone or other device to your portable printer. This is a lot easier and more convenient than trying to do this over a regular Wi-Fi connection, especially when you're traveling and changing locations frequently.

Bluetooth PAN

One of the limitations of a regular PAN setup is that it only stretches across a limited area. When it was initially developed, PAN technology could only extend about a meter or so. Things have improved, but standard PAN technology usually only stretches a few meters more. In many cases, this may not be sufficient. One alternative is Bluetooth PAN.

Bluetooth PAN is also known as piconet. This type of network uses more advanced technology, so it works more efficiently with devices like Smartphone's. As with traditional PAN technology, there is a base device that's known as the master. The other devices are known as slaves. With the right antenna, a Bluetooth PAN can extend more than 100 meters. You can use this setup to share a Bluetooth-based network with other users.


WPAN stands for wireless personal area network. Unlike traditional PANs, there's no need to use FireWire or a USB connection. Everything is handled wirelessly. Instead of using wires, WPAN technology uses IrDA, which relies on Bluetooth, wireless USB or infrared signals. This type of PAN is the most effective option for people who want to connect several wireless devices. It's also suitable for people who aren't going to stay in one place for very long. Without the need to connect any wires, setup is a breeze.


Another type of PAN is known as Skinplex. It gets that name because it is activated by human touch. This technology is sometimes used on convertible car tops and automatic door locks. As far as printing goes, it doesn't have any really useful applications. It's still worth mentioning because the technology is still relatively new. In the future, it may be used more extensively.

On-the-Go Printing

The main benefit of any type of personal area network is the ability to connect a variety of devices through one master device. Thanks to this kind of technology, the days of having to physically load a document on a computer that's connected to a printer are rapidly fading. If you regularly need to print documents while you're out and about, a portable printer is an excellent first step. To make the most of your printer, though, you should also try using a PAN.

Although portable printers don't use regular ink, you'll need to stock up on compatible ink cartridges to ensure that your regular printer is always ready to go. It's especially important if you're going to have several devices connect to your printer through a personal area network.   

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