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HP TouchSmart Web printer sidesteps PC

Inkjet prints directly from the internet

HP will release an inkjet printer later this year that will let users print documents from the internet without a PC.

HP's Photosmart Premium with TouchSmart Web printer will allow users to browse web-based content on a 4.33-inch touchscreen panel from which they can select what they want to print, including movie tickets, puzzles, recipes and articles from the web.

Additionally, users will be able to print or upload photos directly to HP's Snapfish photo-sharing and printing service.

The company will also provide applications so that users can personalise web-based content such as coupons and calendars that can then be printed. Users will also be able to print customised news from USA Today based on their interests, HP said. HP has teamed up with websites including Google, Fandango, Coupons.com and DreamWorks Animation to deliver personalised content.

A limited number of sites will be supported initially, an HP spokeswoman said. Users will not be able to print articles from newspapers other than USA Today, but support for more sites and content will be added over time.

The wireless printer will also print pictures from PCs and the iPhone smartphone through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Like other all-in-one printers, it will also copy, scan and fax documents.

Traditionally, the PC and the printer go hand-in-hand, but that is changing, said Keith Kmetz, vice president of IDC's hardcopy research programme. Now the internet is becoming the information hub for homes, and this printer is designed to exploit that, he said.

But the technology of printing directly from the internet isn't entirely new, Kmetz said. Sharp has shown some multifunction printers in the past that could print documents directly from sites like Google, but that was for more expensive printers in the business market. The technology is new for inexpensive printers, Kmetz said.

He was guardedly optimistic on whether the technology would take off. Printers are still the mainstay in homes to print large documents from PCs. It may also take time to break consumers from their habit of booking tickets online at home but printing them out at the theater or of printing digital photographs at local print stores.

"But I have to give HP kudos for trying to make print relevant for consumers," Kmetz said. The feature could add attract some buyers who look for added value from printers in the low-end segment.

HP is incorporating touchscreens into more devices. HP already offers TouchScreen all-in-one PCs, which are desktop PCs designed to be shared in homes and small businesses. The PCs allow users to perform basic computing tasks, schedule activities or record video notes for other family members or work colleagues to view.

The Photosmart Premium with TouchSmart Web is expected to sell for $399 in the US. There are no UK release details as yet.


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