HP Launches Portable Printer

SAN FRANCISCO (04/18/2000) - Hewlett-Packard Co. targets the growing mobile computer market with the release this week of its first new portable ink jet printer in years. The HP DeskJet 350 mobile printer is being announced Tuesday and the base model will sell for an estimated $269.

The DeskJet 350 is a follow-up to the HP's DeskJet 340, which shipped in 1995, says Brian Sahr, category manager for the business printer division. The new model offers improved technology but retains the older printer's best design qualities, he says.

Technology improvements let the new unit print faster with better quality, Sahr says. He also notes that the unit is rated to print about five pages per minute black text, and two pages per minute in color, which is more than twice as fast as the older model.

Print resolution is up, too, which should mean higher-quality output, he says.

The new DeskJet 350 offers 600 by 600 dots per inch when printing black (up from 600 by 300) and 600 by 300 dpi when printing color (up from 300 by 300).

The DeskJet 350Cbi package sells for $299 and includes some extra features with HP's own technology improvements over the old 340Cbi package. The DeskJet 350Cbi has a nickel-metal hydride battery that HP promises will print 130 black pages with one charge. The old 340Cbi used a less powerful nickel cadmium battery. The new battery has a built-in fast recharger. The 350Cbi also includes an infrared adapter.

Users who chose to add the new battery to the base model later will pay an estimated $49, and the infrared adapter will cost an extra $39. Other accessories include a Universal Serial Bus port cable for $32 or a special three-foot long parallel cable for $19.

Sturdy, if (Relatively) Bulky

While HP changed much of the technology inside the DeskJet 350, it retains the DeskJet 340's sturdy design. That makes the unit--which weighs in at 5.4 pounds with its removable sheet feeder--bigger and heavier than some competitors' mobile printers, Sahr says. (Canon's more expensive BJC-50 weighs about 2 pounds.)But the size also makes it tougher, Sahr contends. The DeskJet 350 survives HP's 3-foot drop test. Durability is important, especially for users on the road.

Five years is a long time between products. Why did HP wait so long to revisit the mobile market? Sahr says the company was pleased with the sales of its DeskJet 340 and wanted to wait and see how the mobile market developed before pouring more money into a new product.

With the release of the DeskJet 350, the company apparently sees some potential in mobile units. In fact, Sahr says HP expects to see about 12 percent annual compound growth in the portable printer market over the next five years.

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