Just when you’re thinking there are precious few original ideas in the world of printers, along comes HP with the Photosmart Wireless B110a. This is the first of a new breed of printers from the company, which will be Internet connected. By this the company means it will have its own IP address and be able to receive e-mails.
If your first reaction is “Why would you want to do this?”, you’d be in good company. After all, sending an e-mail to print on your printer is not going to get you a hard copy unless you’re standing by the printer at the time. There are a couple of situations, though, where we can see it could be handy.
You could give one of these machines to a non-computer-literate relation, for example, and use it like a sophisticated fax machine, so they don’t have to get involved with printing email attachments. If you had these printers in an office, any visitor could print to them without having to load drivers or get network permissions.
HP maintains a list of all the people permitted to email a given printer, so you can control exactly who can use the facility and, hopefully, prevent any printer spam. All forthcoming HP printers costing over $100 are, apparently, going to be Internet connected in this way.
The printer itself is similar to the Photosmart Wireless B109 as a mid-range, inkjet all-in-one. A 61mm LCD display is bordered down left and right by what HP calls a Touch Frame; six touch buttons which illuminate when they’re available. They are easy to use and positive, though using left and right arrows to move up and down menus is counter-intuitive.
Paper feeds from an exposed feed tray and ends up on top of the input stack, once you’ve swung out an extra paper support, which makes the footprint of the machine quite large. At the back is a USB socket, though there’s no cabled network, just Wi-Fi.
As well as the e-mailing facility, HP provides a series of downloadable apps, similar to Lexmark’s SmartSolutions. At the moment they’re mainly fairly trivial apps from the likes of Disney and DreamWorks, aimed at children.
Printing via e-mail worked as expected, though it took a minute or so for it to filter through the Internet, and we printed both straight e-mails within embedded graphics and emails with attachments. The machine managed a maximum black print speed of 8ppm and over 4.5ppm in colour, neither of which is bad for a printer at this price.
Black text print came through looking a little fuzzy, though colours on plain paper are dense and bright and photos, as usual from HP, are excellent, with natural hues and smooth colour transitions.
The four colour ink tanks give a cost per page of 2.3p for black and 6.9p colour, both of which are good for a sub-£100 inkjet.
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