Communicate with technophobes with the Printing Mailbox


PrestoMost of us have relatives that are technophobes who are much more difficult to communicate and share family photos with as opposed to others who are computer literate.  Let’s face it, it’s much easier to drop an email with photos attached than it is to print them out, write a letter, and mail them out to the untethered.  In my case it’s my Mom who has never used a computer and has absolutely no desire to use one either.  This is why I got excited when I saw this article in the New York Times about the Printing Mailbox and Presto service from HP.  The combination of the printer and service would make it easy to drop an email and some photos on Mom which would appear instantly in hard copy, just like Mom likes it. 

The printer costs about $149 from major online and offline retailers, and the service costs $10 a month or $100 for a year.

Presto can also create newsletters featuring the day’s headlines. Administrators — the grandchildren, most likely — can create and send monthly photo calendars and manage the online mail filter.

The service is designed for the non-techno-savvy, which means settings are kept to a bare minimum. In fact, except for infrequent ink and paper changes, the device is intended to be maintenance-free, much like that other mailbox at the end of the driveway.

The printer has a telephone port and power cord and it designed to be virtually maintenance free.  You can even build a trusted email list to keep a handle on spam.  I just might be getting one of these for Mom so those photos of the great grandchildren can start rolling in.


Brett Nordquist

I just bought one of these for my grandma. I like the idea of her being able to see pictures and read email to keep in touch with family members. I’ll post a review on my blog once I’ve had a few weeks to test it out. So far, it looks like a great device for people without a computer. My father lives close enough to handle ink refills and such. I wish it held more than 50 sheets of paper but am sure my grandma can handle refilling that.

Dave Zatz

I read a Business Week article on this a few days ago. The account only accepts email from a pre-approved list of senders which you can configure through a web interface. I considered getting this for my grandmother, but just because it appeals to me as a geek I don’t think it would work for her in the real world. Who will set it up, buy and replace ink carts, etc? Easier (and cheaper) to just have Shutterfly send digi pics now and then and to call more often. :)


I went on their site and looked around but I didn’t see how you would keep spam and other unwanted garbage from wasting paper and ink. Do you have some idea of how this works?

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