We're hearing a lot about cloud computing and printing at the moment and expect to hear even more in the near future. Kodak already has cloud enabled printers on the market but has just launched the HERO range, which combine a range of advanced features with the ability to connect to the cloud straight out of the box.
The range starts with the entry-level HERO 5.1 with print, copy and scan functions and wireless connectivity as standard. With the HERO 5.1 you can also access your pictures on Facebook and Kodak Gallery, print directly from your iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Blackberry or Android device and send e-mails to your printer from any e-mail account. Automatic double-sided printing also comes as standard, as does Smart Sensor technology, which predicts the amount of ink, paper and time required to complete as well as detecting the paper size so you don't have to change print modes. As if that wasn't enough, the HERO 5.1, like its pricier stable-mates, will allow you to create 3D photographs at home.
The idea of creating 3D pictures at home sounds pretty exciting but it seems as though the technology has a little way to go yet. Basically, you need to take a picture (preferably of something that doesn't move much), then take another picture within 20 seconds and 3 inches to the right without changing the camera angle. Once you've taken your pictures, upload them to a Windows PC and use Kodak Home Center Software to create and print 3D images, which you can then view with your 80s style red and green 3D glasses. It all sounds like a bit of an effort for pictures which probably won't look that great but, who knows, it could be fun and the technology is sure to get better.
You can create your Avatar-like (ahem) 3D images on any HERO printer but, further up the range, there are more practical additions to the 5.1's capabilities. The HERO 6.1 and 7.1, whilst similarly priced, fill different niches and are equipped with a different set of features to reflect this. The HERO 6.1 comes with a fax and double-sided document scanner (duplex ADF) while the HERO 7.1 has a separate 40-sheet photo tray and a larger, 8.9cm, LCD touch screen. Sitting at the top of the range is the HERO 9.1, which combines the features of the 6.1 and 7.1 and comes with a duplex unit, 30 page ADF, fax, 40 sheet photo paper tray and 10.9cm touch screen.
All this means that, with the Kodak HERO range, you can do pretty much anything you'd want a multifunction inkjet printer to do and probably more. Imagine taking your holiday photos on your smartphone, then sending them to your printer so they're waiting for you when you get home. You could even send them to friends and family with cloud-enabled printers if you're so inclined (although whether they'd want their home printer to suddenly start churning out endless pictures of your trip to Cancun is another matter).
Cloud computing has already been with us for some time but is set become huge in the next couple of years, while the potential for cloud printing is only just beginning to be explored. We're confident that, with this in mind, the Kodak HERO range, and printers like them, will prove to be a big hit.
by Anthony Morgan