HP readies TopShot MFC printer with pseudo-3D scanner

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HP unveiled over a dozen new printers for consumers and small businesses at its annual Imaging and Printing Conference in Shanghai this week, including one that purportedly scans in 3D. Along with conventional multifunction features, the TopShot LaserJet Pro M275 has an arm-like camera mounted to the scanning bed that rises over an object and captures six pictures from various angles. Three of the images are taken with flash and three with ambient light.

When the scanning process is complete, those shots are automatically assembled into one seamless glare- and shadow-free picture -- though it isn't exactly 3D. The scanner can't render three dimensional models, it just gives you a high-quality 2D image of 3D objects. Nonetheless, we haven't seen this functionality offered on any other multifunction devices and it could prove useful for hobbyists and businesses that take a lot of photos -- eBayers, for instance.

Besides its TopShot technology, the LaserJet Pro M275 has an embedded device that supplies access to printer-relevant applications. We assume this is the culmination of the company's work on webOS, but considering that project has been axed, HP awkwardly avoids mentioning the mobile operating system in its video introduction of the TopShot printer (it also shows generic representations of its Pre smartphone and TouchPad tablet at around 1:50 into the clip).

It's unclear how long the company will support the software aspect of its printers if they're running webOS, but for whatever it's worth, the LaserJet Pro M275 has some interesting applications. One lets you automatically upload TopShot images and other scanned content, another can scrape contact data from scanned business cards, and there's also a postage app that lets you schedule pickups from your printer. The TopShot all-in-one will be available "soon" for $400.

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