Methods and apparatus for using isochronous data transfer mode to communicate between a host computer and a printer. Preferably, the printer receives a sufficient volume of data from the host, such as a computer, over an isochronous communications channel, to begin but not complete one print pass (i.e., line scan or page scan). Subsequently, the print pass is initiated causing a print mechanism to move a printing device relative to a substrate without interruption. Thereafter, sufficient data to complete the pass without interruption is received over the isochronous communications channel during the print pass. The high speed transfer rates afforded by isochronous data transfer allow for printing to be initiated before all of the data necessary to complete a print operation without interruption is received. Moreover, the size of a printer buffer used to store the print data before printing may be considerably reduced to store only a portion of the data needed for an entire print pass.