The Presto Service and HP Printing Mailbox Review – Part Two

[Ed. note: This is the follow up to Part One of my review on the HP Printing Mailbox and Presto Service, which can be read here.]

Shortly after Christmas, the large box containing the HP Printing Mailbox made its way from Texas to Florida. Once it had shown up at Papa’s, his step-son Rand unpacked it, unwrapped it, and got it hooked up. According to Rand, the entire process took less than ten minutes.

At the scheduled time Papa received his first Presto email…


Elaine, my ex’s aunt was there to catch some pictures and get Papa’s first impressions. She said, “Dad said it is nice getting the pictures, he really enjoys this aspect a lot. He also likes hearing from family members; it is nice to get their emails.”


“We wondered if because it was using the phone line will someone calling in at the time emails are downloading, will they get a busy signal?”

The answer to that is maybe. If the line tied to the Mailbox has call waiting and voicemail, and a call comes in while the Presto is making its scheduled call to the service, then the incoming call will roll to voicemail. If the line tied to the Mailbox does not have call waiting and voicemail, then yes – the incoming caller will hear a busy signal.

“Also, if someone is on the phone at the scheduled time for emails to be sent, will the machine be called back and send emails later?”

Well, the machine actually makes the calls, so if someone is on the line when it is time for its scheduled call, it will simply make its call later, at the next scheduled time. No worries. πŸ™‚


My ex’s mom wrote to say, “When I talked to him, Papa was very impressed with the machine and again the pictures are a plus for him. His eyes have macular degeneration, so a computer monitor is really hard for him to see – he has to be on top of it and a specific angle. The flat paper picture is much easier for him to “see”, which is still another advantage of this great machine.”

So it looks like the HP Printing Mailbox and Presto Service are a hit! If you have someone that needs to be part of family emails but that doesn’t have a computer, this is a very attractive option that will keep them connected.

The Presto Service and HP Printing Mailbox is available directly from
MSRP: $149.99 for the HP Printing Box, $9.99/month or $99.99/year for the Presto Service, and $34.99 for the 14ml tri-color cartridge
What I Like: Formatted emails without internet service or a computer, this is a great way for seniors to stay in touch with family, up to five different times to “fetch” emails can be programmed in per day, up to five email addresses per mailbox, calls are to a toll-free number, no SPAM – incoming emails must be on white list
What Needs Improvement: Nothing

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.

4 Comments on "The Presto Service and HP Printing Mailbox Review – Part Two"

  1. Mitchell Oke | January 13, 2007 at 4:16 pm |

    This is such a great idea, and even better that it works in practice! I know my dad is interested in this if they make it available here in Australia.

  2. I have to disagree on the “nothing to improve” angle … while I can certainly see the advantages on this product for a certain demographic – it is vastly overpriced! What on earth can justify $100 a year for an “ISP” that only lets you dial in to get incoming-only email? I think it would be much more practical to get Grandma and Grandpa a decent quality color inkjet fax machine? You’ll end up spending about the same on device+ink … but no service fee. Is there any computer left that doesn’t have a built-in fax modem for free for sending the messages to Grandma and Grandpa? A fax machine could even allow the Grandparents to easily handwrite a response to send back to the family!

    I’d love to see some more competition in this product area bring the price down … but until that happens, I doubt this type of product will catch on widespread …

  3. airwick, The option you present is a very good one, and definitely something that anyone considering this device and service should consider. πŸ™‚

  4. Just a few of the notable differences between Presto Service and a fax include:
    – Faxes deliver loads of spam, Presto is spam-free
    – Almost none of your family or friends uses a fax machine to stay in touch. Almost all of your family & friends use email to stay in touch. Presto is an email-based solution.
    – Fax quality is (at best) 200 dpi. Presto is 600 dpi color inkjet quality printing from HP. Imagine what a 200 dpi b/w photo looks like
    – If a fax machine shares your phone line, you need to be present to accept incoming faxes and incoming fax calls can be a nuisance. This is one reason fax users have a separate line. Presto shares a single phone line without interrupting voice calls, it dials out to retrieve emails, so it never takes an inbound call. Presto delivers new messages automatically; the user doesn’t have to do a thing to receive their messages.
    – Faxes are one-to-one communication. A Presto user has “” email address that can be added to a distribution list in a many-to-many email conversation just like any other email address.
    – Faxes are WYSIWYG, no customization options. Presto users enjoy customized message print styles (templates, font size, etc.).
    – Presto users enjoy receiving their choice of free content from the Presto Newsstand, including newsletters, articles, games, recipes, puzzles and more — all delivered automatically.

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