By Harry McCracken | Monday, July 13, 2009 at 12:00 pm
Last month, HP unveiled an $399 all-in-one inkjet printer with a Web-connected color touchscreen that runs applets for tasks such as printing coupons, movie tickets, and Google Maps. Today, Lexmark announced an all-new lineup of inkjet all-in-ones–and no less than three of ’em are equipped with touchscreens. People, we have a trend here.
The Lexmark (top) and HP (bottom) touchscreens are the same size (4.3″) and look strikingly similar–actually, both look rather like iPhones affixed to the front of a black-and-silver printer:
However, Lexmark is using its touch technology–which it’s calling myTouch with SmartSolutions (not to be confused with T-Mobile’s myTouch 3G phone)–for quite different purposes than HP’s. The Lexmark printers, unlike HP’s consumery model, are designed for use in small- and medium-sized businesses. Lexmark’s screens are Web-enabled (they let you scan documents and e-mail them without a PC being involved, and include a simple RSS reader) but don’t let you print Web content directly in the way that HP’s does. Instead, Lexmark mostly uses the screen to simplify tasks that you’d normally accomplish with the dedicated plastic keys that most printers have. And the SmartSolutions part of myTouch with SmartSolutions is a nifty-looking feature that lets you save multiple custom sets of settings for use by different people–potentially pretty handy in offices where folks share a printer.
Lexmark’s starting price point is also half of HP’s $399: The company will release touchscreen printers for $199, $299, and $399, with varying sets of features. They’re not due to ship until September 1st (HP’s printer is also supposed to show up this Fall). I hope to get my hands on one for a review.