HP joins the multifunctional fray

As technology continues its march towards the convergence of devices, Hewlett- Packard (HP) Co. recently unveiled three multifunction products (MFP) that pay homage to that very ideology.

The HP LaserJet 3300, 4100 and 9000 MFPs all integrate scanning, copying, e-mail and faxing into one. The 3300 prints 15 pages per minute (ppm), copies 14 ppm and is primarily aimed at the small business environment. For the small- to medium-sized enterprise, the 4100 offers a 25 ppm print and copy engine, while the 9000, aimed at larger workgroups, has a copy speed of 50 ppm as either a copier, scanner or printer, HP said.

In addition, the 4100 and 9000 work directly with the SMTP mail server to create an SMTP encoded e-mail inside the printer, said Jean-Paul Desmarais, category manager for laser jet MFP printers at HP Canada in Mississauga, Ont. He added that both of these devices can colour scan to a e-mail address as a pdf, jpeg or tiff file and also come equipped with an embedded Web server and virtual machine.

He said that while the market is flooded with similar devices, HP is really not concerned with its competition.

Xerox Corp., for one, has already gravitated towards a converged offering with the help of Irvine, Calif.-based Kofax Image Products Inc., a document capture software company. The firms announced last month that they have integrated Xerox’s MFP capabilities with the Kofax’s document capture software and according to representatives from Xerox, their customers will now have the ability to track, manage, update and deliver scanned documents in a Web browser environment.

In a similar type of partnership, Tokyo-based Cannon and Nashua, N.H.-based eCopy are also offering a device that features fax, copier, printer, scan and e-mail product. IBM is also considered a player in the MFP market, particularly in the commercial production printing market.

“This [MFP] is really where the market is going right now and there’s really not much of a story beyond that. Everyone wants to go to a converged functionality, it’s what the customers are demanding and where the strategic thrust of all the major printer vendors are aimed at right now,” said Raymond Quan, research analyst for the printing market at IDC Canada in Toronto. He added that while the traditional printer market has not yet become saturated, the real potential for growth lies in the MFP sector.

HP’s devices are expected to be available this month. Customers will have to wait for the summer to add the digital sending feature – which will allow users to scan to different applications such as a network fax server or workflow – as an upgrade, HP’s Desmarais said.

Pricing for the 3300, 4100 and 9000 MFPs start at $1,002, $6,399 and $28,246 respectively.

-With files from IDG News Service