Once again, Hewlett-Packard has further lowered the technical barriers faced by small and mid-sized businesses when it comes to the ease of using its printers. Last week, the company unveiled a new feature called Smart Install, which basically allows workers in SMBs to get up and running (or should I say, printing) simply by plugging in the printer via USB, followed by a few clicks of the mouse.
How it works: As the relevant drivers are preloaded onto the printer, an intuitive dialog box will automatically appear once the printer is connected. Users simply have to select the connectivity type - wired USB or wireless for selected models - agree to the driver installation, and the printer is ready to print. There is no messy CD installation disk to speak of. To get a better idea, you can watch this video demonstration of the technology from HP.
This Smart Install technology is available on its new range of monochrome printers, such as the HP LaserJet Pro P110 Printer series, the HP LaserJet Pro M1130/M1210 Multifunctional series, and the HP LaserJet Pro P1566/P1606dn series, as reported by eChannelLine. Some of the series have built-in wireless, while others are Ethernet network-enabled. For more information as well as the price, CNET News has a nice summation of the various models and pictures.
Jean Paul Desmarais, senior marketing manager, Enterprise and SMB segments at Hewlett-Packard Canada, displayed an astute recognition of challenges facing smaller businesses when he explained why its play and print technology will be useful for these organizations. Desmarais said, "That's where they will end up, companies that don't have any IT. HP Smart Install lets people with no IT background install printers with no complication." Desmarais also hinted that the technology could be extended to color printers.
Critics might argue - and correctly so - that Smart Install merely represents an evolutionary improvement rather than anything truly revolutionary. In my mind, though, lowering the threshold by any amount at all is good news, and a development that will at least benefit SMBs with manpower-strapped IT departments. Of course, what is not known is if the preloaded printer drivers can be "updated" upon the release of new operating systems or platforms.
The new printers also come with the new Auto-On Technology, which will turn the printer off in the absence of printer-related activity to reduce power consumption. The same feature will automatically wake the printer as print jobs are sent to it.
While I would personally just switch the printer off manually, having this automatic feature will no doubt eliminate the need for periodic reminders to employees and the perfect solution to perpetual "forgetfulness" on the part of higher-level executives. As an example, HP says that the new LaserJet P1100 Printer series can save up to 72 percent on energy costs versus its predecessor.
And while we're on the topic of printers, you might want to read my previous blog on how to reduce paper consumption in the office.