HP set for laser printer revamp

Eight new laser printers are on tap for next week as HP refreshes its line-up for businesses, News.com has learned.

Hewlett-Packard plans to bolster its laser printer line-up next week, adding models designed to lower the cost of making documents look sharp, CNET News.com has learned.

Eight new printers, ranging from single-function monochrome models to large workgroup printers, are scheduled to be announced next Tuesday, said sources familiar with HP's plans. The printers hit new low prices for HP's laser models. They're also a signal that HP is developing printers that cater to customers in emerging markets, the sources said.

An HP representative declined to comment on the unannounced products. The company's last major printer launch was in October, when it unveiled several new multifunction color laser printers.

The Color LaserJet 1600 will become HP's new entry-level color laser printer, coming in under the current $399 Color LaserJet 2600. HP is selling the 2600 for $299 right now in a limited-time offer, but the base price of the new 1600 will be $299.

HP will also introduce a printer with slots for memory cards, which will make it easier for businesses to get photos right from digital cameras into their marketing documents. The 2605 will cost $499, and print color pages slightly faster than the current 2600 model.

Many businesses only need monochrome printers, and HP plans to unveil four new multifunction models for their needs. The LaserJet 3050, 3052, 3055, and 3390 range in price from $299 to $699 and can perform a variety of tasks, including printing, copying, scanning and faxing.

The $129 LaserJet 1018 is a new personal single-function monochrome printer designed to fit into tight places on a crowded desk. On the other end of the spectrum, the $2,299 LaserJet 9040 can print wide-format pages for the whole accounting department.

Year after year, HP introduces faster and smaller printers at lower prices, said Bob Palmer, an analyst at InfoTrends. But this group is particularly interesting, because HP is working on making some of the printers suitable for many different countries, he said.

HP's Printing and Imaging Group is the star among the company's businesses, cranking out a large chunk of HP's operating profit. But like any business, it is always looking for new ways to grow. One way the company is working on this problem is by developing products that appeal to emerging markets, where price and customized products are very important, Palmer said.

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