HP Knocks Print Drivers Off Information Superhighway

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Hewlett-Packard kicked off Internet Week in New York Monday by launching ePrint, a new service which allows users to print from any e-mail capable device, including smartphones and, yes, even iPads, to any of the company’s new Web-connected printers. At the same time Google previewed its upcoming Google Cloud Print service, which will allow any device to print to any printer, even older ones, without the need for drivers.

Each ePrint-enabled printer will come with its own e-mail address. The HP ePrint Web service will take care of any necessary formatting and software, thus allowing even devices without native print services, like the Apple iPad, to print to the new HP printers. All HP printers with a price of $99 and above will have the ePrint feature, said Vyomesh Joshi, executive vice president of HP’s Imaging and Printing Group.

“Because the printer has an e-mail address, you don’t have a driver,” said Joshi at a morning press conference. “Essentially you just send the e-mail to the printer and it prints.”

Printing can take place immediately or the document can be stored on the Web for later printing, he said. With the aid of ePrint-enabled applications, the printer becomes a publishing platform, allowing content, like news updates or store coupons, to be delivered to the printer at set times. Users will also be able to use ePrint apps to send jobs to printing services like Fedex Office.

“This [the printer] now will be a mass market platform,” said Steve Youngwood, an executive vice president at cable channel Nickelodeon.

The HP ePrintCenter will allow users to manage print jobs online, register and configure their printers and perform other print-related services.

At the same press conference, Google previewed Google Cloud Print, an upcoming service which will allow any application on any device to print to any Web-connected printer, including legacy devices. While older printers will need to be connected to another device like a PC, the service will work seamlessly with HP ePrint printers, he said. The Google Cloud Print service slated to arrive this fall, he said.

Available later this month will be the $99 HP Photosmart e-All-in-One printer, which has a 2.4-inch Photosmart touchscreen and a direct link to the Snapfish photo service. The $149 HP Photosmart Plus e-All-in-One printer, available in August, will have a 3.5-inch touchscreen and will be able to print Web content like store without the need for a PC.

The $199 HP Photosmart Premium e-All-in-One, which provides a 4.3-inch touchscreen, supports two-sided printing, can connect to the Internet wirelessly will go on sale in September and the $299 HP Photosmart Premium Fax e-All-in-One, also available in September, will include fax machine capabilities and support both wired and wireless network connectivity.

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