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HP unveils printer with detachable Android tablet

Sep 20, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 5 views

HP announced a multifunction inkjet printer that incorporates a seven-inch, detachable Android-based tablet. Based on the HP All-in-One printer, the HP Photosmart eStation All-in-One adds web browsing, Barnes & Noble eBookstore integration, and access to HP print apps and widgets via the integrated, removable Android touchscreen, all for only $399, says the company.

Considering that HP is planning to release a tablet based on its newly acquired, Linux-based Palm WebOS operating system, it is not surprising that the company neglects to mention the Android nature of the embedded tablet in the HP Photosmart eStation All-in-One. However, several hands-on reports from the HP launch event — which also included numerous other printers and related products — says the tablet runs Android 2.1, albeit without Android Market support.

HP Photosmart eStation All-in-One
(Click to enlarge)

The eStation and its tablet first came to light in early August when Engadget reported on an upcoming HP "Zeus" printer and its detachable Android-based "Zeen" e-reader device. The very next day Digitimes kicked in with its own details on what appeared to be the same combo device, but confirmed other reports that this was a one-off experiment and that HP had no ideas of pushing an Android product line. The project was planned before HP acquired Palm in early July, said the story.

The eStation is not only innovative in its detachable tablet design, but appears to break new ground in consumer electronics pricing, as noted in a ZDNet story by Larry Dignan, entitled "HP just blew up Android tablet pricing (with a printer)."

Dignan first notes that the pricing is more affordable than several other seven-inch media tablets, not even counting the addition of a printer that he projects costs about $150.

"HP is subsidizing its tablet to sell a printer (and the ink that goes with it)," writes Dignan. Noting that the tablet offers Wi-Fi (802.11n), but no 3G, he adds, "It's quite genius. HP doesn't have to negotiate carriers' subsidies because ink profits can cut the tablet pricing."

As Laptop suggests in a story about the eStation, however, the tablet is thicker than most tablets and is pretty much limited to print-related apps, plus a web browser and music player. The device offers access to the Barnes & Noble eBookstore, and like B&N's Nook e-reader, it provides a custom interface instead of a full Android installation.

Still , judging from the hands-on video, one gets a richer Android experience than from the more ebook-focused Nook UI. The touchscreen tablet features customized content from Yahoo, Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Messenger, Yahoo Search and Yahoo Weather, says HP. Facebook and Snapfish apps are also provided, and the tablet can sit on its built-in stand and act as a digital photo frame (DPF) device.

Like HP's other new web-enabled printers, the eStation offers the HP ePrint web service for remote printing and other services. HP plans to add more Android apps, made available from its own download site, but they will all be focused on content that can be printed. An Android 2.2 upgrade is also said to be in the works.

Despite ZDNet's claim that HP is selling an Android tablet in order to push printers and ink, the company downplays the tablet angle in its datasheet (see link at the end of the story). In fact, while it offers voluminous detail on the printer functions, it promotes the tablet primarily as a web-enabled touchscreen device that you can use from across the room.

The only technical detail offered on the tablet is that the eStation offers a seven-Inch touchscreen display, along with an underlying TouchSmart control panel.

eStation tablet

Source: Laptop

According to the Laptop report, which includes a YouTube video shown below, the tablet offers four to six hours of battery life, and runs on a Cortex-A8-based Freescale i.MX51 system-on-chip (SoC). The 1GHz SoC forms the basis for Freescale's Android-ready, seven-inch "smartbook" tablet reference design, which may well act as the foundation of the eStation tablet.

According to the previous Digitimes report, meanwhile, the tablet offers 800 x 480 resolution. That report also mentioned that the processor was made by Freescale, and said that the tablet ships with 512MB DRAM and 4GB of NAND flash.

The HP Photosmart eStation All-in-One's thermal inkjet printer most likely runs Linux. Over the last year, HP has released a number of web-connected printers running Linux, including the HP Photosmart Premium (pictured). (The company has also said it plans to embed WebOS in its web-connected printers in place of its current versions of Linux.)

Like the tablet, the eStation is equipped with 802.11b/g/n wireless networking, and it offers a USB 2.0 port, says HP. The printer provides up to 33 ppm (pages per minute) in black and 32 ppm in color, says the company.

The built-in flatbed scanner is said to support up to 1200 x 2400 dpi (dots per inch) scans, and the copying function supports 600 dpi input, but is said to print out at "1200 optimized dpi."

The eStation printer measures 17.83 x 17.9 x 9.5 inches (453 x 455 x 241mm), says HP.Other standard features include a 125-sheet input tray, 20-sheet photo tray, and a 50-sheet input tray, says the company.


HP Photosmart eStation All-in-One demo by Laptop on YouTube
(Click to play)


The HP Photosmart eStation All-in-One "is currently available in select countries" for $399, says HP. More information, including a datasheet, may be found in an HP PDF file, here.

The ZDNet story may be found here, and the Laptop story should be here.

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