HP launches ePrint

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Rippling the glass-like waters of the printer pool, HP is starting to roll out printers that can print from any smartphone, netbook or notebook with access to email services.

The company's Photosmart series of printers use ePrint, a technology HP first experimented with on the RIM Blackberry earlier this year. This was tied to the Blackberry server, but the latest iteration opens up the market to other players.

The move is a response to the massive growth in the smartphone market and the problem of supporting drivers for individual operating systems.

HP uses a cloud to allocate an email address to each ePrint enabled wireless printer. Simply by sending the print job as an attachment, it is processed through the ePrint cloud. The status of each job can then be monitored remotely to ensure there are no problems.

HP jumped the gun by releasing printers before the ePrint cloud went live, which irritated some early adopters.

The service was turned on in time for the unveiling of the latest model in Mumbai, India, yesterday where local fashion photographer Vikram Bawa took pictures which were then emailed to the Photosmart Plus eAll-In-One B110e printer. Additionally, friends of attendees were invited to email in other documents for printing.

The system has its limitations because it can only handle documents from Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Excel or plain text files and Adobe PDF formats.

For images, it supports bmp, gif, jpg, png and tif files. It does not support web page printing or encrypted and password-protected documents.

There is also a 5MB limit to the email, including attachments, but within this ePrint supports a maximum of 10 attachments per email.

The ePrint service is a free feature of the current range of Photosmart printers.