When I had started out in tech (around 1998), printers were an indispensable part of one’s tech arsenal. They cost a fair bit and were not easy to set up (driver problems abounded), but were needed in an era where bandwidth restricted just how much information one could send across and where the “show me it to me on paper” mentality prevailed. We used to print out long reports and courier them across to other cities – e-mail did not support hefty attachments and online sharing websites were quirky. Printers were VERY much needed. Also Read - HP Pavilion 13 Review: A good thin and light laptop, that could have been better
So when HP were walking me through the latest innovations in their ePrint technology and range of printers, I could not but appreciate the irony of the situation. Yes, the technology itself was uber cool – the printers could connect to the Internet over Wi-Fi or using a cable connection without being plugged to the computer, you could print over Wi-Fi or even better, just send a mail to the printer and it would print it out. There were even apps that were running on the printer, letting you access certain sites and print information from them using a touchscreen tablet-like panel on the printers – and you could download more apps, just as you could on a phone or tablet. If we had been shown this kind of stuff in the nineties, we would have thought we had died and gone to tech heaven. Also Read - Best laptops under Rs 40,000 in July 2021: Mi Notebook 14, Asus VivoBook 14, and more
The ironical part? Ah, just this – printing itself is on the way out. I know that statement is going to stir the blood of thousands of people, but as my BGR mate Rajat Agrawal pointed out very bluntly indeed, the only time most people need to print information today is for legal reasons. One prints out legal contracts, airline tickets, certificates and the like. But the “print to share” concept has steadily become history. Sending information by e-mail is a lot more convenient, you can also share information by putting it on Google Docs or a sharing site like Box.net. Books and manuals are being increasingly read online and onscreen. One no longer even prints out photographs but slaps them on Facebook or Flickr. The stand-alone PC ain’t the only gadget threatened by the cloud, printers are in line too. Also Read - Amazon Prime Day sale last day: Best affordable student laptops available under Rs 30,000
Which is not to say that HP’s ePrint tech is out of time and out of place. Nope, we are sure that it will be welcomed in offices and institutions that stubbornly refuse to go paperless (and there are many of those in India). It is also nothing short of brilliant for those of us who need a printout in a jiffy and do not have a computer handy – we can now print from any device that can send an e-mail, so forget about drivers, USB ports and the like. The only problem is that we just do not need to print as often as we did a few years ago.
We have better printing technology than ever before, but much lesser to print. And the tablet revolution is not going to help matters by making even more content mobile. All of which makes one realise that the biggest challenge the printer business might face is not the technology to print, but actually the rapidly decreasing amount of content that needs to be printed. Yes, the Sudoku app on an HP printer lets me print out puzzles and solve them, but heck, I can solve them just as easily and with lesser fuss on my iPhone or tablet!
We love your printing innovations, HP. All we ask for is more reasons to print.