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Photographer & Creative
Startup Tackles Challenge of Photo Sharing
AP Technology Writer

Are you hooked on e-mail but your parents aren't? Do they want to see photos of their grandchildren but aren't up to using a computer much?

Presto Services Inc., a Mountain View-based startup, plans to announce details Tuesday of a service that allows baby boomers and their parents to stay digitally connected without both needing a computer.

Instead, the less-tech savvy recipient would only need a special inkjet printer designed to receive and print out the sender's e-mails of text or photos - similar to a fax machine. The printer would have to be hooked up to a phone line but wouldn't need a special Internet connection. It only receives e-mail and cannot send anything back.

Hewlett-Packard Co. is developing the printer, dubbed the "Printing Mailbox."

Both the HP printer and the accompanying Presto service will be available in the fall. Presto's founder and CEO Joe Beninato would not disclose the service fees or the price of the printer.

Imaging analyst Ron Glaz at the IDC research firm says pricing will be key in whether Presto's service gains any traction in the niche market.

"Every time you turn your head, it costs you money nowadays," Glaz said. "Even if it's $5 a month, sure. But what if you don't use the service often enough?"

Presto is aiming for a simple setup in which the printer would only need to be plugged into a power source and phone line without any other networking hassles. The more Internet-savvy family member or friend would then establish the account with the Presto service - essentially an e-mail box - for the other, choosing what times and how often the recipient's printer should "dial-in" to retrieve any photos or e-mails.

The setup-person could even remotely monitor the recipient printer's ink or paper levels, and order supplies to be shipped directly there. The recipient would still have to fill the paper or switch the ink cartridge - or get a kind soul to do it for them.

Presto has worked quietly on the technology for two years, Beninato said. The company is backed by $10 million in venture capital funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Clearstone Venture Partners.