After playing around with HP's new web-enabled printer, it's clear they didn't take any shortcuts with the hardware, equipping it with a responsive, capacitive touch panel. But besides the same types who buy digital photo frames, will anyone use this?
The software is all very much still in development, but the home screen and surface level feature of many of the widgets were polished enough to get an idea of how this thing will work. And it's nice. The screen responds to your finger about as well as any capacitive-touch smartphone.
Google Maps is still really early in development, so panning and zooming is still unpolished, but it pretty much looks and functions like it would in your browser. You can enter addresses and locations using the spacious, on-screen keyboard. There was even a brief mention about possible multitouch functionality, though that was entirely unconfirmed.
If you're one of the stubborn ones who still likes to read the news on actual paper, USA Today lets you print news stories out direct from the TouchSmart Web UI. This works fine, but the font used on paper looks like it's straight out of the DOS era (gross). I'd like to see publications like the New Yorker create widgets to print out some of their longer stories.
The Fandango widget lets you scroll through movie poster thumbnails, or search for the title you want, then you can look up movie times, watch trailers, and purchase/print tickets—all from the printer. Having access to coupons is great I suppose (RECESSION!), but I'm not sure I've used a coupon. Ever.
As far as photos go, HP has their Snapfish app among the initial widgets, but that is it so far. This seems like a niche where this platform could really take off. Provided they get support from the Flickr/Picasa/Photobucket lot, being able to login to your account, highlight a handful of photos, and properly arrange themselves on the page would be amazing.
It's convenient to be able to walk up to your printer and order movie tickets, or print maps/coupons/photos. But if you spend alot of time in front of a computer, it's also just as easy to do it from there. So for now, at least, it seems like the HP PhotoSmart Premium with TouchSmart Web will be a neat—but not entirely essential—product.