The all in one is on the march at Comdex with big name companes like Hewlett Packard, Epson, and Brother all showing a range of multi-function devices. Price competition is keen and all of the vendors are stressing the cost and space saving appeal of owning one small and inexpensive box over the need to buy a printer, fax, scanner, and photocopier separately.
But clearly price alone will not be enough for vendors to differentiate their products and what we are going to see is a race to add more functions to the now, more or less compulsory print, scan, fax, and photocopy.
Hewlett Packard's Product Manager for all-in-one devices told ZDNet that we should expect to see more functions being added to the basic set -- and to expect things like digital camera docks which cut out the PC. HP's latest all in one offering is the 700 series, which will ship in the UK on December 1. HP's Trulove believes the fax to email function of this device is the new feature that will win fans for the 700 series.
Taking the PC out of the equation is the hot topic amongst all in one vendors and, as Truelove suggested, we may see this happening first with digital cameras. But given the pace of innovation and the fierce competition for a slice of this growing category you can be sure it won't stop there. Just like every other exhibitor selling anything at Comdex the all-in-one vendors are lookng at ways of bolting on Web and Net functionality. Expect to see all-in-ones with small pop up LCDs to view the Web, grab info then fax or email it.