Last year, HP unveiled a new range of web-enabled printers that had an email address so you could send print jobs from any computer or mobile phone even while you were miles away from the printer. These printers, and all-in-ones, also had apps to help you print information – like maps, coloring books, news headlines – directly from the Internet without even turning on the computer.

What next? Yes, printers can be made more energy efficient, the printing speed (pages per minute) can be increased, the print quality can be improved, the cost of printing (ink consumption) can be reduced but are these “innovations” enough to excite the home consumer who often has limited printing needs? If you only print 5-10 pages in a day, none of these factors would possibly convince you to upgrade the printer.

HP’s upcoming Laser Printer – HP TopShot – does however carry that ‘wow’ factor and you’ll be quite impressed the first time you use this product (see video).

HP TopShot – 3D Scanner but 2D Printer

With HP TopShot, you can scan 3D objects – say your dull-finish DSLR camera, a watch or even a shining piece of jewelry – and it turns them into 2D pictures that you can either directly print to paper or send to the cloud (like Google Docs) as a digital image.

You just need to place the 3D object on the white surface, hit the Copy button on the 3.5” LCD screen and the scan should be ready in under a minute.

The magic happens inside that adjustable handle which is fitted with cameras and lights. As you hit the scan button, the cameras simultaneously capture multiple images of the 3D object and the internal software transforms all these images into one seamless picture.

HP TopShot, also known as HP LaserJet Pro M275,  is expected to become available in US and Canada later this year while the launch in India and other Asian countries is expected to happen sometime early next year. HP executives didn’t reveal the price but, as per the official website, this 3D scanner can be yours for around $400.

Technically, what HP TopShot does is equivalent to capturing an image of a 3D object with your regular digital camera and then using Photoshop to remove the background. If you have an online store, say on eBay, TopShot could actually save you a lot of time.

HP also unveiled a new range of premium printers – HP Envy – for people who use Apple products the style-conscious consumer. These are wireless AirPrint enabled printers (you can print directly from and iPad or iPhone) and, unlike the other all-in-ones, the Envy series printers are compact and the white elegant body looks really good. HP says that the Envy range is most popular among Apple users.

HP TopShot 3D Scanner – Video