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HP's CloudPrint


My neighbor mentioned this in passing the other day. He had the details wrong; he thought this sent documents to your cell phone for storage and later printing. No, that's not quite it, but it's almost as silly.

The supposed need being met here (and "brilliantly" met, according to some other reviewers) is printing for travelers. You are on the road and need to print some document.

Before we get to how HP's CloudPrint addresses that problem, let's see how most of us would handle it:

  • Print the documents we need before we leave
  • Bring our own computer with everything on it
  • Put them on a USB stick
  • Put them on ftp server or web site
  • Email the docs to your Gmail or Yahoo account
  • Put them in Google Docs

The last (Google Docs) is how I usually do it: I can access Google Docs with any web browser on any operating system and all I need is my Google login (the same login I use for Gmail and all other Google services).

Now let's see how HP "brilliantly" accomplishes the same thing, shall we?

  • First, download and install a new printer driver. Windows only, of course. All Mac and Linux users stop here: you can't use CloudPrint.
  • Print your document.
  • When you do this, you get asked for your mobile phone number plus the telephone numbers of all the people you'd like to send it to. Then your document gets printed "to the cloud," and all the recipients get notifications via SMS. That SMS message contains a "document code".
  • To retrieve your document from the "clud", you visit http://cloudprint.hpl.hp.com/, put in your phone number, the document code, and poof - "Your document will appear as a PDF, ready to be printed to the local printer."

Okey, dokey. So it's Windows only on the "send" side because of that stupid printer driver. They say:

You can retrieve CloudPrint documents from any computer that has a web browser and Acrobat Reader. So that means a Mac, a PC or even Linux.

If you want to print to the Cloud, sorry, the driver is currently only available for the PC. But we're working on a mac version, and we've even got something up our sleeve for iPhones and smartphones.

With Google Docs, you just upload your document. No printing to a virtual printer. Furthermore, you can edit your Google Docs document from any browser - that PDF from CloudPrint is "retrieve only".

Google Docs let's you share any document with anyone with an email address - and if you want, they can edit that document also. No cell phones necessary.

In short, CloudPrint is a poor implementation of something Google already has nailed to the wall.

There is another supposedly useful aspect to CloudPrint: they have a Locate a Print Service Provider Near You page. I tried it for my zip code and found that it knew of nothing within 50 miles.. of course I know darn well there are dozens of places nearby where I could get something printed. I tried a few more zip codes and got the same result: nothing found.

CloudPrint: a silly solution to a problem I don't have.

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© Anthony Lawrence

Thu Aug 23 13:45:30 2007: 3082   BigDumbDinosaur

Now let's see how HP "brilliantly" accomplishes the same thing, shall we?

As the old saying goes, new technology isn't necessarily good technology. This whole cloud print thingie sounds like a significant waste of electrons, photons or whatever else is involved. Geesh!

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