For most people, printing technology isn’t very sexy—and it’s made even less appealing by all the complicated software that most users have to install and configure before they can even begin putting marks on pages—and often those complicated installers wind up polluting machines with unwanted bloatware and add-ons that people will never use anyway. Hewlett-Packard aims to solve some of that trouble with what it’s claiming are the industry’s first “Plug and Print” laser printers. Just pop them onto a USB port, and in less than two minutes HP’s Smart Install technology will have folks up and running in less than two minutes, no complicated installers required.
“Our customers demand easy printing and we’re giving it to them—no clumsy CD-ROMs to install, no drivers to download,” said HP senior VP for LaserJet and Enterprise Solutions Ron Coughlin, in a statement. “HP Smart Install offers the future of printing, today.”
Of course, HP hasn’t really offered all that much information about how HP Smart Install works or what platforms it supports—so like most printing technologies from most companies, it’s a bit of an inscrutable mystery that apparently consumers are supposed to figure out by trial and error. (HP has a video describing the technology, but it never loaded for us.) From the materials available, we’ll assume it supports recent versions of Microsoft Windows—as for Mac or Linux systems, your guess is as good as ours. The technology also sounds suspiciously like HP has merely shifted the install software into onboard memory in the printers, rather than on a CD-ROM…so it might be interesting to see how these printers fare in a few years when their burnt-in software may not work so well with new operating systems.
In any case, HP is offering up three printer series with the technology: the ultra-compact LaserJet Pro P1100 series (ranging from $129 to $149), the LaserJet Pro M1130/M1210 MFP series (PDF, ranging from $149 to $199), and the LaserJet Pro P1566 ($179). The printers also feature auto on/off technology so they can wake up when a print job comes in and power down when they’re idle. Availability varies by market: some are available in Europe and Asia now, while the M1100/1200 MFP series should be available worldwide next month.