Although HP has big plans for webOS on printers following its Palm acquisition, the company isn’t shy to show off an Android model of the integrated Zeus/Zeen Photosmart printer, which essentially is a printer with a dock for a tablet to provide ease of printing capabilities.
The good news is that Android seems to be on-board on this model, providing more options and choices for users besides webOS and shows that HP is still committed to a diversified product portfolio. HP has also built on a UI layer to make it easy to use, and will provide a touchscreen UI for docked mode. Now, time for the bad news. The eStation C510 lacks a Gmail app and does not appear to have access to Android Market for apps. However, to mitigate this, HP is providing some custom apps for printing Facebook, Flickr, and Snapfish photos.
There’s also deep integration for Barnes & Noble ereader app, the nook. We’re wondering if Barnes & Noble, digital publishers, and HP got together to enable you to convert your digital books made in bits to physical books composed of atoms!
According to Engadget, which had gotten glimpse of this tablet/printer combo, here are some details of the eStation 510:
- The Zeen is a capacitive tablet running HP’s TouchSmart skin on top of Android 2.1 — it won’t get shifted to webOS, and it’s not clear if it’ll get upped to Froyo before launch given the development time required. It has capacitive touch buttons, an SD card slot, video support, and at least some prototypes have cameras with a special webcam app installed.
- We’re told TouchSmart will be locked in, but we don’t know how deep that’ll go — right now the standard Android homescreen is still accessible. That’s supposedly going away, so don’t get your hopes up for any native Gmail / Angry Birds use.
- E-reading is a major focus, and the Zeen has “significant” integration with the Barnes & Noble Nook bookstore and ecosystem. Makes sense, as the Nook itself is based on Android, and being able to print e-books from the Zeen would be a huge differentiator — and a great way for HP to sell more ink.
- The touchscreen is apparently not very accurate at all, and we’re told the overall experience is far less satisfying than a competent Android phone. Don’t expect this to replace your Droid Incredible for all at-home use.
- The Zeen will come in two configurations: a $399 bundle with a new printer called Zeus and as a standalone unit for an unknown price. The Zeus has its own “basic” control setup, but when the Zeen is docked it provides a rich interface to the printing functions — presumably a web-connected interface like the one HP’s been moving towards with other printers. (Note: the product page listed $399.99 but provided no indication what price the Zeen might go for solo.)
- Ship date is an estimated September 20th but due to some testing issues this may be pushed back.