Wednesday, 22 September 2010 17:00

HP Photosmart eStation all-in-one includes Android tablet


HP has unveiled the Photosmart eStation, an all-in-one device with a touch screen control panel that doubles as an Android tablet. Along with another new model, the ENVY100 e-All-in-One, the eStation brings a new industrial design to HP's range.

HP's Photosmart eStation puts a new twist on a popular product category. The 7in touchscreen control panel can be detached from the main unit and used to run a variety of applications including a web browser, with the ability to print selected content.

The main device and the panel have separate Wi-Fi connections, so the panel can be used independently of the eStation if desired.

Ryan Wilday, design strategist in HP's worldwide design group, told iTWire that the decision to use Android was made prior to the company's acquisition of Palm, which brought it the WebOS operating system. However, he emphasised that shouldn't be taken as an indication of HP's plans for future products in this category.

The eStation uses the Photosmart five-ink system for superior photo printing, and includes a photo paper tray.

As with some other recently-announced devices from HP, Microsoft Office, PDF, JPEG and certain other types of file can be emailed to the eStation for printing.

What about the ENVY100? Please read on.

Also new is the ENVY100 e-All-in-One, a design-rich device intended to sit well in any room. Features include concealed paper trays, a tempered glass lid with a fully-dampened hinge, and aluminium parts to give a quality appearance and feel.

Both models support the recently-announced AirPrint technology allowing wireless printing from Apple devices such as the iPad without the need to install drivers or other software. They also work with 'web apps' that allow a variety of web content such as news headlines from Yahoo!.

Wilday, who worked extensively on the ENVY100 design and on the industrial design of the eStation, said "my mission is to de-commoditise printers."

Design is "very costly" in terms of materials, craftsmanship and fit and finish, he said, but "we've taught customers that printers are cheap" even though they are actually more complex than a PC.

"You can use design to get customers to pay [more]" but you still have to hit price points that they are happy with, he explained.

One of the limitations of the e-All-in-One range is that the web apps are largely US-centric. Paul Gracey, category and marketing manager for inkjet and web solutions, in HP South Pacific's imaging and printing group, said local apps were under development. While no specific announcements had been made, apps to deliver Australian and New Zealand content were "definitely in the works" and would be available to current and future owners.

See page 3 for price and availability details.

The ENVY100 costs $A399, and goes on sale on November 1.

The $A699 eStation also ships on November 1, but will initially be available only from Harvey Norman stores. Gracey told iTWire that distribution may be widened in 2011.


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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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