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New HP inkjets gun for small businesses

Hewlett-Packard's new printers extend its reach into the small and medium-sized business market and boost its potential for revenue from consumables such as ink cartridges.

Hewlett-Packard launched a cadre of color printers Monday aimed at small businesses.

Three new HP inkjet printers, ranging in price from $399 to $1,399, will offer better image quality and increased paper handling capabilities as well as greater networking capabilities than previous offerings, according to HP.

Printers--especially inkjets, which generate recurring revenue by requiring replacement ink cartridges over time--have helped bolster HP in the stormy PC market of 2001. The newest offerings extend the Palo Alto, Calif., company's reach into the small- and medium sized-business market, which generally encompasses companies with fewer than 1,000 employees.

Many companies view the small and medium-sized business market as a gold mine, as the collective group is a large consumer of technology, including PCs, printers, copiers and fax machines. Compaq, for example, has also recently launched a renewed push into the arena with new PC offerings.

But it's also part of a larger plan to win more of the printer market. HP recently kicked off a four year plan to increase its share in the low-end printer market and expand into copiers and fax machines over the next two years, followed by a push into the commercial printer market by 2004.

The HP Color Inkjet Printer cp1160 offers a 150-page paper tray and print speeds ranging from 4 pages per minute when set on "best" quality to 17 pages per minute when set on "draft." Print resolutions range from 600 dots per inch by 300dpi to up to 1,200dpi by 600dpi, according to HP's Web site. The printer is priced at $399.

HP also introduced the wide-format Color Inkjet Printer cp1700, priced at $499, which handles paper up to 13 inches by 19 inches. The more feature-laden cp1700ps model, priced at $599, adds an option for networking as well as support for Adobe PostScript 3 and the Linux operating system.

The new 1160 and 1700 series printers are available as of Monday, according to HP.

The company also introduced the HP Business Inkjet Printer 2600, a high-end, wide-format color inkjet printer priced starting at $999. The $1,399 HP Business Inkjet Printer 2600dn model includes a two-sided printing accessory and a network card.

Three different networking options accompany the new printers, allowing the devices to be shared over a wired or wireless network as well as via the Internet.

HP's Jetdirect 200m and 250m print servers allow users to share printers in the cp1160 and cp1700 product lines, while the company's new HP Wireless Print Server wp110 allows users to connect to the printer via an 802.11b wireless network. Prices on the networking products range from $199 to $299, according to HP.