HP overhauls enterprise printing range

Printer giant HP has announced a range of new enterprise printers and support products as the company overhauls its business offering in the face of growing competition from Canon, Lexmark and Dell.

The company, currently subject to legal scrutiny after an investigation into leaks to the press led to illegal surveillance and access to phone records, held an event in San Francisco yesterday evening to launch several new mono and colour laser and inkjet products for the mid-size and large enterprise markets, including several multi-function printers (MFPs) designed to compete with traditional enterprise photocopiers.

New products announced include the LaserJet M3035 MFP, a compact workgroup multifunction unit that delivers 35 pages per minute, the LaserJet M5035 MFP, a cheap to run wide-format printer with integrated copying, faxing and stapling capabilities and the LaserJet CM1015, which the company claims is the world's smallest colour laser multifunction printer.

HP also announced a radical new colour inkjet printing technology called Edgeline. The new technology uses a revised print head that is the full width of the printed page, rather than a character-wide head that scans along the page in the same way that dot-matrix or golf ball print head technology operated.

"Edgeline provides the enterprise with a cost effective and highly flexible platform for high volume colour printing" said Vyomesh Joshi, executive vice president of the HP Imaging and Printing Group. "Traditionally with inkjet printing, the head moves and the paper advances through one line at a time. With Edgeline we have changed that - the head does not move and instead we have far more control over how we move the paper within the printer, improving speed and quality of printing".

Future printers fitted with full-width Edgeline printer heads will be able to dispense smaller drops of ink at a rate of 1.8 billion per second, compared with the "low hundreds of millions" that its current range produce.

HP already has Edgeline-based printers in commercial use, with the technology used in a retail photo kiosk called the Photosmart Express Station, as well as its Photosmart pm1000 Microlab printer designed for commercial photo printing.

Alongside Edgeline and the new business printers, HP announced new versions of its printer management software. HP Web Jetadmin 8.1 now includes a report tool plug-in, which will allow users to conduct more scheduled reports than before using thirs party reporting packages, as well as perform asset management and tracking functions, and total cost of ownership analysis. Other software announced at the same time will allow businesses to conduct security assessments, detailing how printers are used for the reproduction of sensitive data and providing advice on how document security can be improved.

As part of a new commercial strategy, the company announced plans to expand its worldwide sales team, allowing it to more effectively service its top 2,300 business customers directly. This announcement seems to place the company at odds with its largest specialist resellers who also service the same size of business and public sector customer.

"The company remains totally committed to working with partners and resellers, however we already have strong direct relationships with the very largest of our customers who need a more direct and specific relationship with us. The investment we are making in our sales operation will help our business resellers and specialists, it is not about taking the sales away from them and going direct" said Jan Riecher, vice president of HP's enterprise imaging and printing go to market unit.