The HP eStation Zeen, the Zeus printer, and everything we know about them
byNilay Patel||August 5th 2010 at 5:41pmAugust 5th 2010 5:41 pm
We've been flooded with a deluge of tips about the HPZeen ever since we posted those first FCC images of the tablet device this morning, and it's actually a little surprising at how perfectly everything aligns. We've now had multiple tipsters confirm that the Zeen is an e-reading-focused Android tablet with the unique ability to connect directly to an HP printer and function as its interface without the need for a computer. But that's not all -- here's everything else we know:
The Zeen is a capacitive tablet running a HP skin on top of Android 2.1 -- it won't get shifted to webOS, and it's not clear if it'll get upped to Froyo before launch given the development time required. It has capacitive touch buttons, a SD card slot, video support, and at least some prototypes have cameras with a special webcam app installed.
The goal is for the HP home screen and skin to be the only home screen available, but that hasn't been fully implemented yet.
E-reading is a major focus, and the Zeen has "significant" integration with the Barnes & Noble Nook bookstore and ecosystem. Makes sense, as the Nook itself is based on Android, and being able to print e-books from the Zeen would be a huge differentiator -- and a great way for HP to sell more ink.
The Zeen will come in two configurations: a $399 bundle with a new printer called Zeus and as a standalone unit for an unknown price. The Zeus has its own "basic" control setup, but when the Zeen is docked it provides a rich interface to the printing functions -- presumably a web-connected interface like the one HP's been moving towards with other printers.
Despite the CQ model number, the Zeen is a straight HP product, with a laser-etched logo on the back.
So that's what we know about this enigmatic product. It certainly adds up -- HP has long said one of the reasons it bought Palm was to use webOS as a consistent interface to other connected devices like printers, and it only makes sense that the company was working on executing that strategy with an OS like Android long before Jon Rubinstein and company joined the team. Besides, how better to sell more ink than by making it easy for consumers to hit Facebook and print pictures without having to use a computer at all? It's certainly interesting -- we're waiting patiently to see when and where the Zeen next appears.