Presto Printing Mailbox: Send email and digital photos to offline relatives

Grandpa wants regular updates and photos of the kids but doesn't have (or want) a computer or an Internet connection. How to bridge the generation/technology gap?

Presto's solution is delightfully simple: plug a Presto Printing Mailbox in at Grandpa's house, connect it to any phone jack, and then sign up for a Presto account, which creates a simple email address for Grandpa (really, for Grandpa's printing mailbox). The mailbox then watches for incoming email to that address and automatically prints anything it receives. You get to fire off notes, reminders and photos to Grandpa as usual, he's thrilled with the printouts.

Handy details: no spam (only approved friends and family can send email to Grandpa), adjustable print settings (if his eyesight isn't what it once was), and the printer uses regular white paper. The printer itself is a vastly simplified version of a regular HP printer; it's easy and obvious how to add paper and change the ink cartridges.

For tech-challenged relatives who struggle with their computers when all they really want is to keep in touch, Presto is a great option.

HP is currently offering a $50 discount on the Presto Printing Mailbox ($99.99 instead of $149.99), and Presto service is $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year.

Win it! One lucky Parenthacker will win a Presto Printing Mailbox and three months of Presto service! Answer the following question in the comments or on your own blog (be sure to share the link to your blog post in the comments), and include your email address in the comment form (your email won't be displayed on the site). I'll choose one winner at random on Sunday, August 5 at 5pm PST. Good luck!

How has email changed how you communicate with your long-distance family?


  1. Rick says

    I come from a family of talkers, so I can’t call any of my long-distance relatives unless I’m ready to be on the phone for at least thirty minutes. Even if I tell them I only have a minute to talk and want to tell them something specific, I find it difficult to get off the phone. E-mail lets me say what I need to say and move on. It also let’s me send pictures of our house, yard, baby, etc. to my parents who otherwise wouldn’t get to see them very often!

  2. Elizabeth says

    Biggest difference is being able to communicate information, pictures and the like to multiple people at a time. This helps keep everyone informed and allows us to more easily keep in touch with a larger number of relatives.

  3. Divrchk says

    Email has made it much easier to keep up to date on things going on in life. I am able to share pictures that tell stories with my sister whom I rarely see who lives on the opposite coast. This would be a great gift for my grandmother. Please, please let me win!

  4. kelly says

    yes! I keep in touch with distant friends and family much more than I would w/o email. I need to do a better job of sending pictures but at least I can send of a quick email to my SIL now and then so we can catch up which is nice.

  5. Wendy says

    I don’t know what I’d do without e-mail to keep in touch with my family, especially nowadays (my dad is ill with cancer). My husband and I use it daily as well (none of that newfangled txting for us!).

    Here’s my blog post.

  6. William says

    Email has been a lifesaver for us. Shortly after having our twins, we moved out of state, away from both of our mothers. While we talk to my mother all of the time on the phone and she visits quite often, my wife’s mother is not as ambulatory and is also deaf. This makes phone calls slow and infrequent. Getting her a computer and setting her up on email was the best thing we did before leaving.

    More details on my tumblog.

  7. Neil says

    E-mail has allowed us to keep in touch asynchronously. I no longer have to try to remember what time it is out in California when I need to let my brother know something, or remember if my mom is working that night (because we know leaving a message with Dad is as effective as not calling at all). I also don’t have to rely on my memory of what was said when people tell me things; I’ve got it all packed away.

  8. Daisy says

    It hasn’t changed things much with my family. My mom is a technophobe. This gadget would be perfect for her.

  9. Nichole says

    Email has meant that I actually do keep in contact with my long-distance family. I don’t like talking on the phone, so I rarely kept in contact before everyone had email.

  10. Whitney says

    Without e-mail I would be a basket case! I have a brother in Argentina and the only way we can communicate with him is by e-mail. We moved across country when my youngest was 8 months old- now I have 2 and my youngest is almost 4. It is so nice to be able to e-mail them pictures and kind of like a present when we get pictures or letters- it always brightens my day. My husband and I will be apart in different states for 2 months and even though I can talk to him on the phone I know my kids and I will love getting pictures and letters from Dad and sending them to him. (Although, as a shameless attempt at the printer, we will have the printer and he won’t be able to print off any pictures)

  11. Sue at nobaddays says

    Email and blogging are our lifeline!

    My parents are in South Africa, my brother in New Zealand, and my in-laws and husband’s siblings are all in Canada!

    I have lived away from my family for going-on 18 years and we have relied HEAVILY on email to send news and pictures as the cost of phone calls to South Africa is prohibitive (around $1.50 per minute) and mail takes some time to get there.

    Last year, after my son was born, we started a family blog to keep in touch so we now use email less. That said, the cost of internet access is high for my Mom, so she has dial-up (which she pays for my the minute) and only checks the blog and Flickr to download news and pictures once a week.

    My 91-year-old granny lives with Mom and little surprises each day mean a lot to her. So Presto would work well for them if the service extends to other countries?

    Our blog is at:

  12. Ruth says

    Actually, I wish email would change the way we communicate! Both my family and my husband’s family are email-resistant for personal messages, at least. Instead, we play a lot of phone tag and unsuccessfully juggle time zones. My mother-in-law is completely technophobic, so this photo printer would make a huge difference for us. She’s always complaining about not having “real” pictures…

  13. hedra says

    For me, it is two things:

    1) the ability to have a group conversation with several people spread out across the country. My family is all OVER the place, and for certain conversations, reply all is a godsend!

    2) Increases the frequency and depth of communication with those who are farther away. If the time is going to be bad for either of us (like, say Alaska to east coast) most of the time, email means we can talk without wondering if we’re waking each other up, or interfering in bedtime routines. My sister and I talk nearly daily – by email. Before I was emailing much, we talked maybe once a month.

  14. Sarah S. Chicken says

    Email and blogging have made it easier to communicate with some of my family (most of whom are out of state), but it’s harder for those who don’t have email. I find that I am lazier about communicating with those people.

    On the other hand, those who check my blog and email me regularly get to see pictures of their loved ones and it’s easy to jot a few lines about our day.

  15. Kristi says

    I still talk with my brother at least as often as I email with him, but Mom and I use email to tell each other things “real quick” all the time, and only talk once a week or so. More distant relatives — aunts, uncles, cousins — doesn’t seem to be much of a change, we still only see each other once a year if at all, and rarely keep up by email.

    If I win this, I’ll put it in my Grandma’s house to send her pictures of my daughter and brief updates on what we’ve been doing. Since I rarely find time to call her anymore, it would be great to be able to stay in touch (albeit rather one-sidedly) in this way.

  16. Cindy says

    Eamil saves me lots of money, considering we don’t have to make long distance calls to the grandparents much anymore. We also use it to send updates to the family unit as a whole instead calling everyone individually. I hope I can drag everyone over to my blog, so even email use will decline (hopefully)!

  17. Robyn says

    Since my in-laws live in England, email has been an incredible way to stay in touch with them and keep them updated with photos of our kids.

    My kids have been dictating messages to them since they were pre-schoolers on their own accounts. (They’ve started typing their own now. Good writing practice.) They love to get email almost as much as snail mail.

  18. Candace Prosser says

    We are originally from East Texas. My husband, our kiddo, and I moved up to Oklahoma back in 2002. We only had one little one then and it was both our parents first grandchild.

    Having the internet was a great way for them to get up to minute information concerning our daughter. Then that summer we found out that we were expecting again.

    I was very busy trying to work hard for the money while my husand was trying very hard to find a job while taking ONLINE classes. It was the only way he could attend school and not have to use the car to drive two cities away for classes.

    Spring of 2003, still updating the family via online on our growing family, we found out my father had cancer.

    I wanted to talk to him every day possible, however, being a lower income family the phone bill prospect was devastating, so we emailed. I was able to keep up with his prognosis and diagnosis as well as research his options online.

    Through all of this the internet help me keep in contact with my extremely large family, including my mother’s side. I lost my mother to cancer in 1985, so it was a real need for me to discuss my father’s illness so that I could have close support.

    My stepmother kept us informed daily on my Dad’s downhill spiral and sent us all of the necessary documentation so that I could ask for an emergency leave of absense via online through my company.

    Not to mention I was attending the University of Oklahoma at the time and having the internet facilitated my quick withdrawl of classes.

    Since the fall of 2004 after my father’s death, we have kept up with long lost friends a relatives, only becuase we could access them throgh the internet, and let me tell you, after losing both of your parents, you realize how much those connections matter.

    We have added one more pea to our pod and I send photos constantly to my relatives. My inlaws are especially anxious for updates so I upload the photos at and get them printed at their local Walmart to be picked up. They no longer have internet, which is a bummer.

    I am rambling, I tend to do so.

    I use the internet for banking, shopping, mail, picture storage, searches, keeping up with the news, movies, recipes, do-it-yourself projects, keeping up with freinds and family, and just plain slothing it along- no really when I am bored I blog hop.

  19. Chief Family Officer says

    Email helps bridge the time difference gap, since often the time that’s convenient for me (early in the morning) is when our family is still sleeping where they are. Short emails also help me shoot off quick updates, like “Tyler got his first tooth today!”

  20. Candace Prosser says

    Man, I totally got side tracked as I typed and listened to my kids imitating Polyphonic Spree with three keyboards and The Little People music blaring in the living room.

    Anyway the above comment is a rabbit trail…I posted about the contest on my blog.

  21. robin j. says

    This printer looks awesome. My mom has been promising to get on the internet for the last five years, but if I got this for her she would use it, and at last be in on the email loop from which she frequently feels left out (despite it being her choice to not use the email account I set up for her).

  22. Jessica says

    I am able to make sure all of my family gets the correct information at the same time, no more did I tell so and so??

  23. Michelle Beezer says

    Email has definately changed the way we communicate with our realitives as we now live in MA and our family resides in CA. We can send email at anytime of day without having to remember the time change issues using the phone. Plus we can send pics of our son back home with a few clicks. I’m hoping to get a digital video camera and start sending video. Its also nice when you just want to send a quick hello without having to talk forever cause you still need to get things done!

  24. Christel says

    I have no doubt that email has helped keep the grandparents and extended family closer to my kids than when I was growing up. As a kid, I saw a lot of my family only during holidays or special family trips. They didn’t get regular updates and photos, didn’t know my interests and milestones, and I think that created something of a distance. It was like having to get reaquainted with each child every time they saw us.

    But now the elder statespeople of my family can watch videos and get photos and know the details of our days and how the kids are doing. It’s a connection I didn’t even realize how much I valued until I started thinking about it for this comment. What’s best is that it’s a win/win situation — I get to share my highs and lows and get advice from caring family, and they (especially those living alone) get to share in all the amazing things we’re going through.

  25. Becky says

    This is a timely question since I recently had a good friend move out of state. When she lived here we were constantly emailing back and forth and now she is in a situation that she doesn’t always have access to the internet and I have missed our email “chats” and look forward to when she is back online full time.

  26. Kimmer says

    My husband’s grandparents are the only members of our family that don’t have a computer, and they really miss out on the pictures. I try to send printed photos every few months or so, but being able to directly send them pictures every time I get a cute shot would make a big difference to them, I know.

    This is a great idea!

  27. Jill says

    I get a lot more silly forwards :) In reality it has helped us communicate quick little snippits of info. We have also got webcams so occasionally we will send video. That is amazing technology to help watch my kids grow.

  28. RT says

    Email connected me to family members when I was in college, not to mention my fiance who lived 7 hours away. I remember printing off pages and pages of our romantic meanderings to read during breaks from classes. Now that I live in my hometown again, email allows me to keep up with my brothers who both live in different towns. I can quickly send them a photo of my daughter or easily tell them about the cute little things she does. I heart email.

  29. Sarah says

    After I got married in 1997, my 77 year old grandmother got on the internet for email. We emailed daily for about 8 1/2 years. We had always written letters to each other but the internet revolutionized our relationship, we were able to stay up to date on each other (mainly her keeping up with me :). My grandmother and I had always been somewhat close but the daily contact of the internet helped “seal” our relationship. In the fall of 2005 she was hospitalized, thankfully for nothing major, but ever since then, she’s not quite been the same. Her 87 year old body is starting to show signs of wear and she gets confused on how to turn the computer on most of the time now. She won’t go without the internet because she likes being able to get online when my aunt comes over but boy this Presto invention would help her independency. This would help so much as I update her on my kids, especially of her little namesake born on her birthday.
    The internet has been a wonderful tool, helping me to keep in touch with friends and family as if I’m living close by.

  30. Jenn says

    Email literally saved many of my family members lives and sanity. I have 6 sisters and one brother and we are scattered all over the US and abroad. We range in age of 61 to 24 and I have many neices and nephews my own age and we all are very close.

    Most of my nephews and my brother in law were over in Iraq serving in our armed forces. Luckily, we were able to email them and keep in touch during that time.

    One nephew wasn’t able to be present at the birth of his fist son, but was able to connect via email. My sister uploaded the video for him and emailed it right away. Without that email, it would have been 6 months before he saw his son.

    Another newphew was a Commanding Officer in a region many miles from Ramadi. Although the army had set up a communications tent there for the troops, his unit wasn’t able to access it for months at a time due to their position and their job there. My nephew stated how the morale of his unit dropped like a rock. He went out and ordered (with his own money, $5000 on his only credit card), a sattelite dish and an internet connection for his men so that they could be able to get email from their families. They say it saved their lives. After being in the desert and having many near misses, opening an email from one of us that included pictures of the kids or a cheery hello helped them persevere.

    Gladly, all the guys were retuned safely to us and we are thrilled to have them home!

  31. Tiffany (Life on the Road: Home Business, Homeschool and Cats!) says

    I second the motion that I mostly WISH email would change things! My mom HAS email, but checks infrequently… DH’s mom hasn’t bothered to get new service since she moved…

  32. NDS says

    Email has changed my communication with my relatives in India significantly. I can send pictures and messages to my relatives knowing that they will get them right away. Amazingly enough I just had a son and both of my grandmothers are in India. We emailed pictures of our son to them so they could see their great grandson right away instead of having to wait to get pictures in the mail. My grandmothers were so excited and happy to see their great grandson and it makes me so happy to know that I was able to show him to them (especially because they will not see him in person for a few years). On my mom’s side its the first great grandson and on my dad’s side he is the last of his siblings to have a grandson so my son is special to both of my grandmothers for this reason. Email has been a blessing when it comes to my family. In addition my cousins in India and I have been able to keep in better touch as a result of email. Prior we never really kept in touch unless I went to visit (which was every other year) but once email came into play we have got to know each other way better than we ever would have. Email has allowed me to be closer to my family in India and for that I am grateful.

  33. Jil says

    Email has kept my family connected. It’s nice to share quick thoughts and great photos in a few minutes. With time being so precious these days, it makes it easier to stay in touch and up-to-date on what’s going on in the family.

  34. Navi says

    How has email changed my communication with long distance family?

    I actually communicate with my overseas father, who I haven’t seen in 13 years, and receive pictures of a sister who’s younger than my oldest two children.

    I communicate frequently with my sister via email, who’s just a few hours away, as I’m just as bad at writing/calling as my father is.

    I communicate occasionally with a long lost half sister via email and we share medical information via email. She was trying to find biological family to see if she could find a connection – and she discovered she and I are quite similar – not because we are both like our father, but because her adoptive mother and my mother are very similar, and we were both raised in the suburb of a large city.

    I wish the rest of my long distance family wasn’t so technophobic…

  35. lisa says

    Email allows me to keep in touch with many relatives that I normally would not call on the phone. I come from a HUGE family and there just isn’t enough time to call everyone. Instead I send out weekly or monthly updates to everyone with lots of pictures. I hope I win…this would definitely come in handy for Grandma and Grandpa’s house!!


  36. Staci says

    My grandmother has emails and it allows me to send pictures of my children and updates with little effort. This means I can update her more often. Unfortunately, my other grandmother doesn’t have a computer and we must rely on snail mail, which means she gets far fewer updates on the kids.

  37. Naomi says

    I have become more dependent on email than the telephone to communicate with family. Since I have relatives on both coasts and in Hawaii, it’s easier to send photos via email or just posting them online. Of course, the ones who don’t have email get kind of shafted…

  38. Julie Johnson says

    Email is my only hope of communicating with long-distance family! With 3 boys, there is no time for writing letters or sending pictures. With grandparents in different parts of the US and other family outside of the US, it is the only way to go.

  39. dewey1973 says

    Email just gives me one more way to disappoint my relatives with how little I communicate with them. I find the best communication tool is a wife who makes you call your family every other week!

  40. Phillippa says

    Email allows me to frequently share news of my newborn son’s developments, from France, with my family in California. It isn’t the same as having family just a car ride away, but it helps us to stay close and participate in his life from thousands of miles away.

  41. Duane says

    My wife still doesn’t understand why I never talk with my family on the phone (she talks to her mom every day). It’s because we email. Often. My brother is on the opposite coast, and my parents are an hour away. But why should that matter? Somebody sees something somebody else might be interested in, it’s only a quick email away. “Hey,” my dad will write, “You said you were looking for those boards that attach to the back of the stroller so Katherine can ride along. Have you seen this?” and then he’ll send a link. Best of all, email is not as time sensitive as a phone call so you never worry about waking somebody up, or being stuck on the phone longer than you wanted. I email from work, I email at 6am before I go to work, I email at midnight before I go to bed.

  42. John says

    Email has been a boon for keeping in touch with family. I email my mom several times a week. I also find myself more readily sending off an email to a distant relative when I know I wouldn’t have bothered to call.

    The downside is that relatives who don’t do email fall out of the loop. I am definitely interested in this product for my aunt.

  43. Heather says

    Now that I’m a mom of 3 kids (under 5 yrs old)I find that email and our blog are the BEST and sometimes only ways for me to stay in touch with friends and family. I really don’t like the phone anymore because one answered call can make the kids go berserk! If I am writing an email I can take a break from it to be there for the kids and that isn’t easy to do on the phone.

  44. JT says

    Email has created my family in many ways! I met my husband on the Internet just over 12 years ago, so I definitely have a special attachment to electronic communication.

    I’m not a phone person anymore; after having a job where I was on a phone headset all day, the last thing I want to do at night is sit on the phone. So I’m an email devotee. It allows me to stay in touch with family from California to Boston, and has really helped me bond with some of my long-distance cousins I only see every couple of years.

    The other nice thing about email — it allows me to be cordial and friendly to family who are long-distance both physically and perhaps emotionally as well, even when a phone conversation might be a little taxing. Talking to those who are a little stubborn about getting hearing aids is awkward on the phone, but with email, we can “chat” away all the time. We’ve even set my mother-in-law up with instant messenger, so she really can chat with us.

    The really fun thing is, as my children get old enough to read and write, setting them up with email so they can dash off notes to their grandparents. They send X’s and O’s and little notes about their day, and it means so much to long-distance relatives who wish they were closer.

  45. Tami says

    I’m always keeping a constant supply of to-the-minute pictures and notes of the children. I know how important it has been for long distant Grandparents to be in this loop! Grandbabies grow up too fast!! And, emailing has been a God send for them! I’d hate for them to only see pictures a month or more after so many fun filled moments have passed by then :(

  46. hazel says

    Also check out if you live in the states. I quite often upload photos there and there is a cool feature where you can get them printed out at (in my case my MIL’s) nearest store, and pay for them. All she has to do is go in and pick them up, which she loves.
    I’m about to see if I can do it to NZ where my family is, with a local chain.
    Its not as cheap as email, but its cheaper than her printing them at home and she loves the photo’s of my wee boy

  47. Jonathan Salem Baskin says

    I think it makes perfect sense, looking at the gizmo and service offering together. So much tech dev seems to have no purpose other than to entertain technologists, and then the branding and marketing comes across also as oddly self-referential. The HP Printing Mailbox and Presto offering makes sense the moment you first learn of it, and it’s elegantly uncomplicated in the way I wish all tech dev could be. I’ve written about it a bit on my branding and marketing blog, DIM BULB, if you’d like to check it out.

  48. Jonathan Salem Baskin says

    I think it makes perfect sense, looking at the gizmo and service offering together. So much tech dev seems to have no purpose other than to entertain technologists, and then the branding and marketing comes across also as oddly self-referential. The HP Printing Mailbox and Presto offering makes sense the moment you first learn of it, and it’s elegantly uncomplicated in the way I wish all tech dev could be. I’ve written about it a bit on my branding and marketing blog, DIM BULB, if you’d like to check it out.