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Detaching printers for non-PC users

Start-up Presto plans to launch a photo printing service that connects an intelligent printer to a online service.

If all you want to do is see pictures of the grandkids, a new start-up thinks it has a service for you.

Presto Services, staffed by former veterans of Ofoto, Yahoo and TiVo, plans to emerge from stealth mode Tuesday and preview its new service at the D: All Things Digital conference next week. The service provides a photo printer made by Hewlett-Packard to the "lightly connected," and hooks them up to an online service managed by more connected relatives looking to share photos, said Joe Beninato, founder and chief executive officer of the new company.

The idea behind Presto comes from Beninato's attempts to set his mother up with a PC. "I bought her a PC with AOL, and she can't quite figure it out." E-mail messages bearing family photos often got lost among spam and other messages, and Beninato's mother wound up simply leaving the PC to collect dust, he said.

So Presto has developed what it calls a "printing mailbox," basically a simple HP photo printer that users plug into a phone jack and a wall socket, Beninato said. That printer contains software that accesses an online mailbox set up by a more tech-savvy relative or friend. New snapshots can be e-mailed to the mailbox, and the service will take those photos and send them to the printer every so often.

No Internet service is required on behalf of the printer user, and Beninato promises that the device doesn't need any configuration. The company plans to announce pricing later this year when it launches the service, but users will have to purchase the printer and pay a monthly or annual service fee.

Presto has received $10 million in funding from venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers and Clearstone Venture Partners.