HP's first (and last?) Android tablet-printer does Apple's AirPrint

September 20, 2010: 4:48 PM ET

HP releases its eStation printer, a product that may have been too far in development to cancel when they bought the Palm OS.

This strange new HP (HPQ) Photosmart eStation Printer is a bunch of things in one.  It is an 7-inch Android tablet with lots of different wireless imaging functions.  The ta let docks in and controls a printer/scanner/copier which is wirelessly attached to the tablet and the Internet. Interestingly, one function allows it to handle Apple's (AAPL) iOS AirPrint and print straight from iOS 4.2 devices like the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

Focusing on the tablet aspect, the device will likely be one of HP's last that runs Google's (GOOG) Android.  That's not to say a lot of work hasn't been done on Android in this product.  In the video below, you can see that HP has managed to put in a lot of interesting printing functionality in the OS.

But HP/Palm is already gearing up developers for HP tablets and printers that will be running PalmOS.  The following note was passed to Palm developers saying that HP was building iPad-sized tablet hardware that should be hitting the street by early 2011.

Now that we are officially part of HP, we are going full speed ahead with our applications initiative. Our proprietary operating system, webOS, is now the OS that will be used in HP's mobile devices. This includes mobile handsets as well as tablet-style devices similar to the iPad. We will accordingly leverage Palm's ability to innovate and the scale of HP's vast install base and distribution network previously unavailable to us.

Office Depot is the only place I could find currently selling the device for $400.  That's a pretty solid deal if you consider that seven inch, name brand Android tablets are likely to be selling for more than $400 alone.

So what does it mean for this strange device?  Is the low price an indication of a short lifespan?


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