Review HP Photosmart eStation the printer with a tablet for a brain

first_imgAndroid seems to be just about everywhere these days. Devices big and small, fat and thin, with a variety of intended uses. At CES this year there was even a microwave running Android. So, when I discovered that HP was planning to make a printer running the mobile OS, I wasn’t so much shocked as curious. After all, thanks to HP’s Android app,  any of HP’s newer printers can be controlled using an app on your phone.So, what functionality does having Android bring to the printing experience? Well, for starters, HP didn’t just make a printer running Android. They made a printer that serves as a dock for an Android tablet that has complete control of the printer even when it is not docked. Curious? So were we!The Photosmart eStation C510a could well just be used as a printer with a gigantic 7-inch screen on it. With its SD card slot you can easily stick a card in from a camera and take a look at your photos on a nice big screen before sending them to print. Since the Printer is connected to the web, you could even go grab that picture from Facebook or your email without ever needing to touch a computer. Maybe you are interested in printing out recipes from your favorite website, or maybe you wanted to print out any of HP’s pre-loaded crafts for kids? All of the above is possible with this printer.What’s more is that if you don’t feel like doing any of this from your office, or wherever you have the printer, you can just pull that 7-inch screen out and walk away with it as a full-fledged Android tablet.SetupTruly using their resources to the fullest potential, the C510a’s setup is unique and incredibly easy. Thanks to the tablet mounted on the front of the printer, you are greeted with a video walkthrough of setting up the printer as soon as you connect the printer to the tablet. A brief but helpful video tutorial explaining how you go about adding ink, connecting the duplicator, and inserting the paper trays is infinitely better than the step-by-step poster that has traditionally come with HP’s printers.Once you have everything connected, the C510a will run a calibration, attempt to connect to the Internet, and is then ready to walk you through connecting to your computer. Wireless connectivity or a USB connection make this very easy, and the setup disk that comes with the device will detect the printer and you are ready to go. In my opinion, HP should strive to make all of their printers this easy to setup, the overall experience was very simple and I was finished in about 15 minutes.HP and Android? The Zeen TabletWebOS might be HP’s baby now, but the Android 2.2 powered Zeen tablet on the C510a was here first. The Zeen does not connect to the Android Market, so despite being Android 2.2 there is no access to Adobe Flash, making the browser somewhat less functional in comparison to existing tablets. However, the tablet does come with a third party app store and the ability to side-load apps, so the sky is the limit as far as how you decide to use your Android Tablet. The Zeem effectively makes the C510a a printer, and ebook reader, a photo editor, and a web browser all in one chunky 7-inch tablet. The Zeen is a heavy tablet compared to standalone devices, but still something you can carry around the house to read on or surf the web with.The real power on this device comes from working with the printer. HP’s software pre-loaded on the tablet allows you to control the printer, scanner, copier, and fax from the tablet, and allows you to control each of these funtions from anywhere, even outside the home with HP’s online services. You could take the Zeem with you, receive a  document via email and either print it out remotely or fax it to its intended recipient from your Tablet. Now, in the home, unless you are running back and forth to put paper in or move paper around, the copy function is somewhat less enjoyable remotely, but still allows you to scan an image or a document, crop and edit the photo, and either print it, post it to Facebook, or anything else you can think of.The Zeen gets roughly 6 hours of constant use if you’re reading or playing a game. Placing it on the dock immediately begins to change the device, a process which takes just about 2 hours to complete, but allowing you to continue to control your printer the whole time. HP’s onboard software is a lot more versatile than the app that HP released for Android and iOS, but there are plenty of ways in which the tablet can be useful besides the printer cooperation. Would I purchase a Zeen to use without a printer? No. As far as comparable devices go, the Zeen is a little sluggish for daily use aside from reading a book or surfing the web, but attached to the printer it becomes a pretty powerful device.Printer quality Oh right, this is also a printer. The C510a was released with a line of printers, including the HP Touchsmart Web which offers many of the same features. The C510a uses individual color ink cartridges like all of HP’s photo printers, but also includes a secondary larger black ink well for printing normal text. There were not functional differences in printer quality between the C510a and the TouchSmart web when color and quality print tests were done, so not only is this a good office device, but a great photo printer as well. The C510a includes a separate adjustable paper tray for a variety of photo sizes, and if you use HP’s photosmart paper the printer heads will automatically adjust based on the size of the paper that is read form the data strip on the back.The C510a also includes ePrint, a service which allows you to send an email with a document or photo straigh to the printer and have it print immediately, making the C510a great for offices full of road warriors or someone who wants to have a reminder waiting for them on the printer when they get home. ePrint combined with the ability to share the printer with any computer on your network makes this printer incredibly diverse for both a home or small business.ConclusionHp has delivered a unique combination of home devices and packed it with enough functionality that anybody could find a use for it, but also made it simple enough to use that anyone can find a use for it. Available from HP direct for $329, this printer would be the closest thing to future-proof you can get in a printer, and everything from the paper trays down to the tablet all feel very sturdy.One question did remain throughout this review, however. If HP decides to make a sequel, will it run WebOS?photosmart_tabletphotosmart_tabletIMAG0075IMAG0073hp_photosmart_01last_img

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