HP is introducing the first web-connected printer which will allow users to bypass computers by going to specially designed sites for coupons, Google Maps, books and more. PhotoSmart Premium with Touchsmart Web will start at $399. Instead of universal internet access, the Web will work only in specific apps. It's not a browser. I’m not quite certain what the market for this product is. For the same price, you can get a decent netbook and printer (this combo would probably take up less space, as well). Has HP hit on something or is this another example of trying to force more paper into an increasingly paperless world? Like printed blogs and wikis, it’s fitting the world into bypassed forms.

Touchscreens are sexy, but will consumers buy every one you build? The touchscreen, mobile and app triumvirate is where it’s at right now, but that doesn’t mean everything with this combination is a winner. There’s a certain je ne sais quoi in the difference between an iPhone and this printer.

For something like this to really succeed, it somehow has to simplify an already streamlined process – and it looks like the PhotoSmart Premium with Touchsmart Web actually adds steps to that process. The novelty factor is not going to overcome increased complexity in use. Occam’s Razor, right?

Plus, I don’t remember the last time I heard anyone say that finding and printing web content was difficult.

Print-on-demand might have a future, but I don’t think things like HP’s printer will fit into the overall picture. As a proof-of-concept, yes; as a creator of consumer demand, no.

A mobile web-connected printer, perhaps, but by the time those become available, a lot more people will have smartphones, so they won’t even have to worry about printing the coupons out.

But right now it looks like paying a lot more money to make a simple process a lot more complex.

By Mark Alvarez