Seiko Epson Develops Printer/Digital Photo Frame Hybrid

Sep 18, 2009
Tatsurou Hokugou, Nikkei Electronics
The "Colorio Me" can be used as a digital photo frame. The "E-800" has a function to make postcards.
The "Colorio Me" can be used as a digital photo frame. The "E-800" has a function to make postcards.
[Click to enlarge image]

Seiko Epson Corp announced its new printers for the year-end shopping season Sept 17, 2009.

At the press conference, the company expressed its will to make their printers more like home appliances than peripheral devices for PCs.

"With existing printers, we have to go through complicated operations to print something," Seiko Epson said. "We would like to allow users to use printers more easily in their everyday life."

To meet that goal, the company developed the small printer "Colorio Me," which is dedicated to printing 89 x 127mm pictures. Equipped with a 7-inch LCD monitor, it can play slide shows and display a calendar. In other words, it can be used as a digital photo frame.

"The digital photo frame market is rapidly growing, so we are planning to propose a new way of using printers such as printing out an image shown on a digital photo frame on the spot," Seiko Epson said.

The company expects that its printers will be placed in a living room and turned on more often due to the digital photo frame function, increasing the number of pictures printed.

In regard to its printers with scanner function, Seiko Epson added wireless LAN capability to many of its new models. The company stressed "the capability to print pictures anywhere regardless of the type of PC that is used."

Some of the models announced in the past year have wireless LAN capability, but it takes time to set up wireless connection for them. The new printers support "AOSS" (AirStation One-touch Secure System) and "WPS" (Wi-Fi Protected Setup), systems to easily set up wireless connection .

"With the new printers, it is possible to set up wireless connection in about four minutes," Seiko Epson said. "It takes about 30 minutes with the former products."

However, I had an impression that there are only minor changes because their appearances did not change much compared with the products announced in the past year.

"The new printers share parts with their predecessors, so their component costs are low," Seiko Epson said.

There is no manufacturer's suggested retail prices. The expected street prices of the "E-600," which can be used as a digital photo frame, and the "E-800," which has a function to make postcards in addition to all the functions of the E-600, are little less than ¥30,000 (approx US$329) and about ¥55,000, respectively.

As for the printers with scanner function, the prices of the top-end "EP-902A," the "EP-802A," which the company considers as the core model, and the entry-level "EP-702A" are expected to be little less than ¥40,000, little more than ¥30,000 and little more than ¥20,000, respectively.