Frankly, I hadn't given the issue enough though to have a formal "impression." The attendant at HP's Macworld/iWorld booth could tell I was grasping for an answer, and he threw me a line.
"Maybe, incompatibility? Difficult to set up?"
I searched my memory. Yes, those seemed like terms that could describe my impression ? had I any ? of the interplay between HP's offerings and Apple's. I nodded. Yes. Difficult to set up. Yes. Incompatible. Those two would do. I nodded again.
"Well," he smiled, satisfied and slipping into a well-worn groove, "let me show you how those are out of date."
About three-quarters of HP's booth at Macworld is devoted to the company's printers. This year, the tech giant is touting its compatibility above almost all else, showing how easy it is to print and share content from Macs and iOS devices to HP printers.
The attendant went on to show me HP's consumer range of printers first. There was the Officejet 150 Mobile All-in-One ($310, Amazon), a sleek printer-scanner-copier unit he said "could fit in your backpack." It does in fact look like it could, though I'm still struggling to think of a situation in which I'd want to pack a printer into my messenger bag.
He moved on to a more tactile demonstration, pouring a cup of water onto a sheet he'd printed, then rubbing the sheet on his head.Among the enterprise units, he showed me the OfficeJet Pro x576dw MFP, a touchscreen-enabled multifunction unit that that uses HP's PageWide technology. HP's printer tech pushes content to the page with only the page moving, not the writing engine assembly. The attendant attempted to explain how this results in faster, higher quality images. I explained that anything beyond a dot-matrix is, to me, an unknowable cauldron of sorcery. He pressed a few buttons and the x576dw MFP began spitting out high-quality prints at a rate of 70 pages per minute. I understood a bit better.
He was showing off the quality of the pigment printing method HP is moving to in its higher-end printers. As he had predicted, the pigment did not run, fade, or smear. It left not a mark on his fingers or his silvery mane. In truth, it was an effective demonstration, despite the undertones of informercial salesman.
All of these," he said, "you can connect quickly and easily to a Mac as you would a PC. Or to an iOS device. They do wireless printing; they do Bluetooth printing.
He finished up the tour at HP's Live Photo demo stand. Live Photo, he informs me, is "one of our branded apps: we've got about 38 in the App Store, and this is one of our newest. One that we're really proud of."
Upon seeing it in action, I can see why.
Essentially, a user records a video on their iPhone using the app. They can then send that video to any number of recipients in a variety of ways: through Facebook, through email, or with a postcard. That last one isn't a typo: The app allows you to design and print physical post cards with a trigger picture for the video. When a friend that also has the app gets that image into his viewfinder, the app recognizes the trigger picture and begins playing the video that goes along with it.
Not exactly groundshaking, but kind of cool to watch a few times in person. Seeing it action, one could imagine it being implemented here and there in advertising, though it requires having the app HP built.
The demo video they had prepared was of one of the attendants' little white terrier. The preview picture showed the pup caught mid-howl as an ambulance passed. When he got the picture into the app's viewfinder, the terrier sprang to life, howling at the siren and then looking back to the camera, a bit mournful. The video looped again and again.
And then the booth tour was done. HP's hit a bit of a rough patch with the rise of iOS and Android, as well as some difficulties in the printer sector. Their booth team, though, showed no signs of that, all smiles and happy how-do-you-dos and wet printouts rubbed on heads. And howling white terriers, mournful and endlessly looping.
"So, did I change your mind about HP and Apple?" he asked, apparently having forgotten that I'd been of no particular mind on HP and Apple. I figured I'd avoid another awkward exchange.
"Indeed," I said, fudging that first part. "You guys have got some impressive stuff," I continued, completely honest on the latter.