New Printer and Monitor Set Themselves Apart from the Crowd

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Category: Hardware Published on Wednesday, 22 January 2014

What makes a tech gadget a "gotta have it" item?

The answer is simple: It has to offer something useful not featured by any of its competitors.

We we've been fortunate to have the opportunity to play with two such items during the past two months: The Epson Expression Premium XP-810 Small-In-One Printer ($229.99) and the Sharp LL-S201A Multi-Touch Monitor ($999).

Both of these companies took that additional step to provide a feature or two to set them apart from their competitors.

The XP-810 is a WIFi and Ethernet small format printer - - - which means it is designed to take up less desk or table space - - -  but that's not what sets it apart from other printers. This baby has a retractable output paper tray! The tray sits inside the printer until you're ready to print and then glides out of the machine when it detects a print job is pending. The only drawback is that it doesn't go back into the printer once the job is done - - - you have to push it back into the unit.

Aside from this, the XP-810 has all of the features you'd expect from an Epson all-in-one printer:

The Sharp LL-S5201A monitor is a bit of a chameleon.

This 20-inch monitor can be used as a standard computer monitor, at an angle for writing with a "pen," or it can lie flat like a tablet computer. It can also be used with a keyboard and mouse or as a touch screen, which we played with using Windows 8.1.

The only problem we had was its incompatibility with older computers. The monitor connects to the computer using either an HDMI/MHL or DisplayPort cable, which means older computers using DVI or VGA video cards will need a bit of help. We ended up using a DVI-to-HDMI cable to connect it to our aging - - and still working - - - HP Pavilion. This meant we weren't able to test the audio through its built-in speakers (HDMI delivers audio and video signals), but this was a minor drawback.

Other features of the monitor include:

We need to emphasize, though, that this can also be used as a standard HD computer monitor without any hassle. Simply connect it to your computer, attach a standard USB cable (which detects pen and keyboard signals) in addition to your video cable and you're up and running.

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