We’re not big on all-in-one office machines – which are a combination of printer, fax machine and scanner in one unit. But there’s a new one coming out later this year from HP that beats anything we’ve seen so far. It adds a fourth component, a detachable seven-inch tablet computer that’s sort of like an iPad. Take it with you and surf the Internet, listen to music , read ebooks or answer your email.

Critics note that the tablet is confined to using Yahoo! mail, photos and other Yahoo-branded stuff, so it’s very much a closed system, not a full-featured tablet computer. It runs on the Android operating system, however, so it shouldn’t be long after it appears that some hacker will break the dependence on Yahoo. The most amazing thing is the price: $399 for a portable computer, a printer, a fax machine and a scanner.

Once again, the HP Photosmart eStation is for later this year.  By then there may be similar devices from other makers. If there aren’t, they won’t be far behind.

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