HP introduces printer with Android tablet control panel

New printers include support for Apple AirPort standard
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HP unveiled a raft of new printers at an event in New York including the HP Photosmart eStation all-in-one with a detachable 7-inch Android powered tablet.

The HP eStation Printer Tablet provides a mobile mechanism to control printer tasks with a raft of built-in applications to manage the all-in-one printing, scanning and copying tasks. The tablet also has a built-in web browser and offers the capability to read email, log in to Facebook and has a Barns and Noble e-reader client.

The eStation Tablet is not, however, compatible with the Android marketplace so it's not possible to install additional software in this way. Rather than throwing the device open to third party applications, HP said that Yahoo was developing widgets and applications which would provide media such as weather and news with a focus on being able to print the content out.

HP said the the Photosmart eStation was to be priced at $399 but no release date has yet been announced. So-called web connected printers is a growth area for the company and a major theme across the range of newly launched printers. The company said it expects to ship 5 million web-connected printers in 2011 and 20 million in 2012.

Other printers include another all-in-one unit known as the Envy, equipped with a 3.5-inch LCD control panel and similar web-connected features. As indicated with Apple's announcement of AirPrint in the upcoming iOS 4.2, HP's new printers all come with support for the standard to allow printing from iPhones and iPads.

HP ultimately has a plan to use the Palm-acquired webOS for printers and tablets but presumably this wasn't yet ready in time for the launch of the new range of printers, raising the possibility that the eStation is the first and last of the firm's foray into the Android operating system.

It seems likely that the applications being specifically developed for the eStation will also be targetted at future products based on webOS.

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