The PC's out of the picture
New-generation home photo printers have unshackled themselves from the PC
Changing technology: The focus has shifted from PC to TV
Like a tube-light that takes time to burn, the truth seems to have dawned at last on the printer industry: there are many more television sets out there than personal computers. When they last added up the numbers in March 2005, Indians had bought something like 14 million PCs and 90 million TV sets.
Which is why Canon India, a subsidiary of the Japan-based imaging giant, unleashed its latest range of products recently, with a new mantra, "it's time to keep the PC out of the picture". Since television touches many more Indian lives than a PC, the company has decided to unshackle printers and digital cameras from the PC and make the TV the epicentre of what it called Digital Imaging Entertainment, DIE.
It cast its DIE with 28 products including digital camcorders, printers, scanners and cameras. One of the most interesting for the Indian home user is the "Selphy" direct photo printer.
The cheaper model, the DS700 costing just under Rs. 13,000, comes equipped with a TV-type remote. It is basically a photo-quality inkjet printer, but the interesting feature is that once you transfer photos from a digital camera to the printer, you can use the remote to look at them on your TV screen (having first connected the printer through the video socket of the TV).
You can then view a slide show; tweak individual pictures to adjust the quality; and then using the remote, you can ask the printer to make copies from 4x6 inch down to stamp size. You can also print a full sheet of passport-sized copies.
For those who don't want the hassle of linking TV and printer with a cable, there is a wireless mobile printer, the Pixma iP90. It costs a little more, but it uses either Bluetooth or infrared to wirelessly connect the printer to other devices.
Canon is not alone, and many of the new models from HP, Epson, Lexmark and others interact with non-PC controllers, either wirelessly or otherwise. In fact, for those of us stuck with older printers, it is possible to buy a wireless `print server' which can be pushed into the USB socket, to make your printer part of a Wi-Fi network.
It looks as if 2005 is the year when imaging devices like printers, handycams, scanners and digital cameras will stop being slaves to computers and tell the PC, "At last, I'm free of you!"
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