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Xerox joins HP in printing by email

Just be sure the spam filter is in place

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Xerox will issue an email address to any Extensible Interface Platform print, enabling printing by email without requiring drivers or even a local connection to the printer.

Printing by email was introduced by HP in June, but is still limited to three models of printer and (by default) relies on secret email addresses to minimise spam. Xerox's offering requires a confirmation email, and works with any device supporting the company's Extensible Interface Platform.

Mobile printing via the cloud has been available for years though third-party software installed at both ends, but the support from Xerox and HP shows how mobile devices are increasingly being used for tasks that used to fall to the laptop, and is a reflection of how hard it is to get mobile devices printing properly.

Bluetooth should be ideal for this kind of thing, but manufacturers could never agree where the intelligence should lie. Handset makers reckon the printer is the bigger partner, so it should be able to receive content in all sorts of formats, while printer manufacturers like everything in software to keep their hardware costs down. Putting the intelligence into the cloud resolves that issue, though it does throw up a few others.

Set up an HP printer though the company's ePrint service and you're given a secret email address. HP tactfully recommends against using "the printer's email address to register for other online sites" to reduce the spam that will otherwise come spitting out of the printer. If that's not good enough then you can register with HP and provide a white-list of approved email addresses.

Xerox, aiming at a bigger market, responds to sent documents with a request for confirmation - which will work as long as the service doesn't get popular enough to attract attention from the spammers.

Both companies will accept Microsoft Office and PDF formats. HP also recognises image files, but caps the file size at 5MB.

Printing by email is an ideal solution, rather than mucking about trying to provide drivers for all the mobile platforms out there, but there's something inherently wrong in sending a document to other side of the world in order to print it out on one's desk. ®

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