HP is starting to see the first fruits of its $1.4 billion investment in next-gen print technologies with the debut of its new Edgeline enterprise-class color printers. The new printers squirt special fast-drying inks out of dual stationary print heads that run the entire width of the page, a system that offers the color quality of traditional inkjets at laser-like speeds. But as with all good things, there's a catch -- the printers aren't being offered for sale. The Edgeline system is apparently so ink-efficient that HP can't sell the units at competitive prices and make up the difference on consumables sales like it does with its inkjet and laser products. Instead, HP will rent the printers to high-volume customers, with a typical contract running for four years at 20,000 pages per month. That's it for hard details, though: HP hasn't disclosed how much the printer rentals will actually cost, only that average customers will see a 30% drop in printing costs by deploying the new machines. (We've seen estimates of about $25K.) That estimate probably doesn't account for discount third-party ink, however, a cottage industry for which HP has never had much love. We'll see how this lame rental model affects HP's ink business -- it's still certainly better than having the cartridges programmed to expire.

[Via ArsTechnica]