HP’s New High-End Printer Bypasses the PC, Connects Directly to the Web

After two years of project development, Hewlett-Packard is preparing for the official sales launch of a new inkjet printer that the technology giant bills as the world’s first “Web-connected home printer,” a peripheral that cuts the cord to the PC by connecting directly to the Internet.

The Palo Alto, CA-based company says the device, which is intended for the home printer market, was developed in San Diego and Vancouver, WA, by a small R&D team from HP’s imaging and printing group. The effort required a broad range of technology innovations, according to Steve Smith, the San Diego-based R&D program manager who headed development.

As new products go, the significance of the Internet-connected printing technology is not so much in what it can do now, which is frankly not that much. Its significance lies in its potential as a technology platform that could spur independent programmers to do for printers what they have done for the Apple iPhone—which is create tens of thousands of applications that provide new and creative ways of doing things with a device.

HP_Photosmart_Premium_with_TouchSmart_Web_FrontThe printer that HP calls its Photosmart Premium with TouchSmart Web comes pre-loaded with 15 applications that will enable users to quickly and easily make certain types of printouts. One app enables users to print photos from their Snapfish accounts. Another prints out directions directly from Google maps. Other apps allow users to print product reviews from CNET.com, news stories from USA Today, movie tickets from Fandango, and discount coupons from Coupons.com. In each case, HP’s Smith says the specialized app ensures that what you want will all fit neatly on the printout. “We’ve taken care of the formatting for you,” Smith says.

HP spokeswoman Christy Seto says the printer is not equipped with a web browser, which means users cannot use the device to browse the Internet or make printouts from most websites, unless they use a computer. But she says that will change as corporate partners and independent programmers develop more apps specifically for the printer.

“In general the device is designed for … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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