HP shows off tablet device for printer

A Web-browsing tablet serves as a control panel for HP's new PhotoSmart eStation printer

Hewlett-Packard showed off a tablet computer that serves as a control panel for its new printer. The tablet browses the Web and can be used as an e-reader.

It has a 7-inch screen and can be easily connected to HP's PhotoSmart eStation all-in-one printer, said Vyomesh Joshi, executive vice president of HP's Imaging and Printing Group, during a press event in New York on Monday.

The tablet can be used to move and print documents and images from multiple media devices and can also be used to exchange content between the devices. The display is a larger version of the 3.5-inch control panel screens on HP's earlier Web-connected printers.

The Web-connected tablet will run customized applications to print specialized content such as weather reports, news, e-books and coupons.

Yahoo is developing widgets and applications for the tablet. The company's applications allow users to get sports, news, finance and weather content and choose pages that can be easily printed. Users will have access to e-mail, weather and news on the tablet and that content can also be printed.

The company is developing software and content with 45 partners, including Delta Airlines for printing boarding passes and partnerships related to e-books and coupons.

Every year 200 billion pages are being transformed from analog to digital, Joshi said, but printable content will also explode, particularly as mobile devices become more connected to printers. About 85 percent of smartphone users want to print content, Joshi said. According to HP's studies, 12 billion pages will be printed from smartphones by 2012.

The company also wants to bring new functionality like cloud services to multifunction devices so content can be shared easily. For example, the company envisions images from a camera being instantly printed at home printers, Joshi said.

The company did not specify the operating system used on the tablet. HP is experimenting with Google's Android, Palm's WebOS and Microsoft's Windows on its tablets. On announcing the acquisition of Palm for US$1.2 billion in April, HP has said that it wants to put WebOS on devices ranging from tablets to printers.

The Photosmart eStation all-in-one will be priced at $399. The company did not immediately comment about the printer's shipping date, or if the tablet would be sold independently of the printer.

The company also announced the Envy all-in-one printer that includes a full-functioning scanner and a 3.5-inch display control panel. It is also Web connected and designed to print content from a number of devices.

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