HP splashes into digital imaging market

Hewlett-Packard has taken a massive leap into the consumer digital imaging pool, introducing 21 new digital imaging-related products to the Australian market.

Speaking at the official product launch in Sydney on Wednesday 21 August, HP General Manager, Imaging and Printing Group, Rebekah O'Flaherty, said the digital imaging field is a burgeoning one which will allow HP to further extend its presence in the consumer/SME arena.

Currently, just 4 per cent of the world's imaging needs are met using digital technology, she said. This figure is set to increase, however, with latest figures from market analyst Inform citing a 20 per cent increase in printer sales in May, as well as record sales of printers and multi-function devices in March. According to Inform, both of these were due to the expansion of the digital home photographic market.

Among HP's new product range is the all-in-one PSC 2210, with print, scan, fax and copying capabilities. The PSC 2210 features a built-in memory card slot, which supports CompactFlash, SmartMedia, Secure Digital (SD) and Sony Memory Stick. It is also one of several new products to incorporate HP's PhotoREt 4 Colour Layering technology, which claims to give images 289 different colour levels, or up to 1.2 million colour hues. The PSC 2210 replaces the existing HP PSC 950 all-in-one and is priced at $599.

Another highlight of the launch was the introduction of the seven-ink, HP PhotoSmart 7550 photo printer. As well as promising up to 4800x1200 optimised dpi colour accuracy, the product also houses a 1.8in LCD thumbnail screen, which allows users to view their images as well as select which ones they would like to print without the need for a PC. The 7550 will be available in stores on 1 September and has a recommended retail price of $799.

HP also launched three new digital cameras under its PhotoSmart brand, ranging from the budget PhotoSmart 320 and middle range PhotoSmart 620 to the higher-tiered 720. All cameras boast 30-bit colour depth, a colour LCD screen, and SD card support, and have an audio/video function which allows users to capture a 15-second clip. Each camera will also connect directly to an HP-compatible printer via the USB port. The cameras are priced from $499 (PhotoSmart 320) to $999 (PhotoSmart 720).

Other products launched included a new range of scanners, and consumable items, such as digital photo paper and tri-colour inkjet cartridges. Both the cameras and consumables are available now.

Winnie Kwan, market development manager of HP supplies, said HP will be looking at promoting bundled product packages, as well as featuring complete solutions at the retail level. Bundled packages could, for example, include a range of cartridges or paper stock with a digital camera and printer, she said. Products will also come bundled with HP's imaging software.

HP plans to release a total of 56 imaging-related products into the market between May and October this year.

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