HP Redefines Printing with Net-Connected Printers

ePrint and Apps

ePrint and Apps

The HP ePrint platform is somewhat like a large email server that receives files from users who want them printed on their web-connected printers. The ePrint server is a print spooler that processes all the files for printing and it sends these processed PCL data to the web-connected printer. Upon registration, each printer is assigned a random email address of 14-16 characters long with a mixture of numbers and letters. The random nature of the email address is to prevent email spammers from guessing your mailbox name. It would've been a bad idea if your printer begins to print a load of junk emails without your supervision.

The HP ePrint centre setup also allows one to further secure your web-connected printer by whitelisting and blacklisting email addresses. In this way, the user could control and grant permissions to print only when it receives files from certain email addresses. 

Even without any blacklisting or whitelisting of email addresses, HP's ePrint centre would have had its own spam filtering software that scans, detects and eliminate any suspicious content from reaching your printer.  But if all else fails to block those pesky spammers, one could always opt to regenerate a new email address.

"We are once again revolutionizing printing to make web-empowered, cloud-enabled printing the new industry standard," said Vyomesh Joshi, executive vice president, Imaging and Printing Group, HP.

Printing via email is only one of the ways one can print with HP's latest range of printers. These new printers also come with an intuitive TouchSmart display panel that lets you print content pulled directly from the web. The panel runs a suite of downloaded apps that lets you connect to popular sites that delivers content directly to your printer. News, photo albums and even entertainment sites like Dreamworks provide endless updated content which one can access on the panel and have it printed without a PC. 

By allowing apps to run on a printer, HP is building an entire app store ecosystem, much like how Apple and the rest of the mobile platforms are doing it today. With a revenue share model of 70/30 which is similar to what other app store operators are based on, HP hopes to tap on the developer community to help it define new usage models of these web-connected printers. 

At launch, users can log on to HP's ePrint centre and download whatever apps that fancy them. But if you're a developer, an SDK can be downloaded for free and you can start developing your own apps. 

For now, the  app platform on the printer is based on the Linux operating system although it would have been pretty cool if it were to run HP's newly acquired Palm WebOS. However, that is not completely ruled out and the company has plans to utilize the power of WebOS to its fullest extent in the near future.

The TouchSmart panel lets users select the application they want to run and content they want to print in an intuitive manner.

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