As the marketplace is pushing for smaller and smaller, Hewlett-Packard (HP) is bucking the trend with bigger. HP recently demonstrated a new design, which it has dubbed the “wall of touch”, built with up to nine 43-inch to 46-inch, 1.5-inch thick LCDs with 1080p resolution. It behaves like a really big TouchSmart computer.
The “wall of touch” is driven by a Z800 workstation, employs a standard touchscreen interface, as well as a gesture-capture interface. Gestures are picked up by optical cameras and a magnetic strip that detect when a user nears, and the movements of the user's hands.
The “wall of touch” is basically a really big TV. HP says the system can access cable and satellite, as well as download and stream media. It connects to social networking sites. And it plays DVDs and DVRs.
HP plans to make the “wall of touch” a mainstream product. HP says it will be available to consumers in 2011. The price tag, depending on options, will range from a couple thousand dollars up to $100,000 or more.
If you are struggling to grasp the exact nature of the partnership, then you are not alone. Apparently, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and HP CEO Mark Hurd were so busy raving about their partnership that they forgot to divulge any lucid details. But the information posted on Microsoft Technet does seem to be of some help: “Microsoft and HP will deliver ‘Smart Bundles’ for small and medium businesses. These are a combination of hardware and software, including HP server, storage and networking solutions, coupled with Windows Server Hyper-V and HP Insight software, delivered in a single, cost-effective package.”
The partnership will also provide a lot of impetus to the Windows Azure Platform, “with HP offering services, and Microsoft continuing to include HP hardware for Windows Azure infrastructure.”
Just when you thought that you had seen the last of the iPhone killers another one popped out from nowhere. But the threshold of banality has been reached and, thankfully, people's tolerance of prospective iPhone killers is now close to nil – the Nexus One being the only exception. The stage is now all set for a breathtaking tablet or two to take the limelight away from all other gadgets.
According to the venerable New York Times, Microsoft will try and conquer the vacant stage with a tablet of its own at the ongoing Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, effectively beating Apple to the tablet-announcing punch.
Is it a D’oh or an oops? Whatever it is the folks at Hewlett-Packard (HP) must be a bit red-faced over the incident. It seems that HP’s new face tracking webcam has a bit of a racial bias. It happily tracks faces that are white, but isn’t quite as obliging with faces that are black.
A demonstration HP’s webcam has been posted on YouTube. In the video two co-workers demonstrate the webcam’s little idiosyncrasy. Sure enough, the web camera has no problem tracking “white Wanda’s” face, while refusing to track “black Desi's”. As if that’s not bad enough, Desi confesses to having just bought the same system for Christmas.
Over at the Voodo Blog an HP representative posted: “We are working with our partners to learn more. The technology we use is built on standard algorithms that measure the difference in intensity of contrast between the eyes and the upper cheek and nose. We believe that the camera might have difficulty 'seeing' contrast in conditions where there is insufficient foreground lighting.”
It’s very likely that HP is right--the algorithms aren’t up to snuff. But, it also imparts a reasonable lesson: be sure your product is ready for primetime before release. It might save you from an awkward YouTube moment.
Gartner, Inc’s gloomy forecast of a 5.6% decline in PC sales for the third quarter of 2009 didn’t quite pan out. Instead, Gartner is reporting a modest 0.5% increase, with 80.9 million units shipped worldwide. Sales were driven by the consumer market, with its insatiable demand for low-priced mobile PCs (i.e., netbooks).
Global leaders were Hewlett-Packard, with a 19.9% share, followed by Acer (15.4%) and Dell (12.8%). Dell was, however, tops in the U.S., with a 26.2% share of the market, followed closely by Hewlett-Packard with 25.7%. Acer finished out the top three with a 13.9% share.
Gartner predicts that the introduction of Windows 7 will have little impact on PC sales for the 4th quarter. According to Gartner’s Mikako Kitagawa: “Recent OS releases have not been a growth driver in the PC market.” But, Windows 7 could be a catalyst for an overdue hardware replacement cycle. Ms. Kitagawa expects some interest in hardware upgrades from consumers and business through the holiday season, and an impact in 2010 as the corporate market begins to react to the release of Windows 7.
Dell in the past 12 months has been making a concerted effort to reduce its carbon footprint and go green, but according to Newsweek, Hewlett-Packard is the greenest Fortune 500 company around. That's an interesting position to put the OEM in, considering Greenpeace ranked HP No. 14.
So why the disparity? Well, according to Gizmodo, Newsweek takes a holistic view when ranking companies, which includes greenhouse emissions, water consumption, and supply chain management. Greenpeace, on the other hand, is about the benchmarks, such as how much toxic chemicals are being used.
One specific area in which the two rankings disagree is with HP's use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardant (BFR). Greenpeace was critical of their use, while Newsweek praised the company for its diminished usage.
As for Dell? The OEM still ranked high in Newsweek's report, taking the No. 2 spot. The rest of the top 5 included, in order, Johnson & Johnson, Intel, and IBM.
The busy bodies at HP kicked off this week with a series of product launches, including several multi-touch capable laptops that work with Microsoft's upcoming Windows 7 OS.
"We introduced our first touchscreens in 1983 and now we're on our third generation of TouchSmart models," said John Cook, vice president of desktop marketing in HP's Personal Systems Group. "Touch may very well be the best way to interact with a computer."
That last statement will be up to consumers to decide, and to help them do that, HP's TouchSmart tx2 laptop ($799) allows consumers to use two fingers to navigate through the touchscreen interfaces. Like HP's TouchSmart desktops, the tx2 comes with the abiltiy to pinch, rotate, flip, press, or drag a finger across the screen. And the 12.1-inch screen can be rotated 180 degrees for use as a tablet.
HP paid attention to the desktop market as well, releasing its third generation of touch-enabled desktop PCs. Both the all-in-one TouchSmart 300 and 600 sport widescreen displays sized 20 inches and 23 inches, respectively. Both also come with built-in touch apps, including Hulu Desktop, Netflix, Pandora, Twitter, and the HP Music Store by Rhapsody.
Four C-notes is about the going rate for 10.1-inch netbooks with a single-core Atom N280 processor and 1GB of RAM. That doesn't sound like much, but that's because you're paying a premium for portability. If you have trouble wrapping your head around that, then HP's new Compaq-branded CQ61 may be more your style.
For the same price as a high-end netbook, the Compaq CQ61 nets you a 15.6-inch dispay powered by a dual-core AMD Sempron M100 processor (2GHz, 512KB L2 cache). Other specs include 2GB or RAM, ATI Radeon HD 4200 graphics, a 160GB hard drive, a DVD burner, Windows 7 Home Premium, and a 6-cell battery.
HP didn't mention what kind of battery life you can expect from the CQ61 and we'd guess it to be nothing to write home about. But still, if you're not sold on the whole netbook thing, the CQ61 looks pretty serviceable at its price point.
Without much fanfare or ballyhooing, HP will begin shipping Linux on some of its new business laptops. Well, sort of. These aren't full fledged desktop distros, but instant-on Splashtop Linux that optionally loads before the main OS.
HP has long supported Linux on its servers, but this is the first time we're aware of that the OEM has gone open-source on one of its notebooks (excluding netbooks), even if it is a pre-boot environment. It will be made available on HP's upcoming ProBook 5310m laptop, which will also come with Windows 7 Starter Edition.
The ProBook and other Splashtop-based notebooks will support the full-featured Evolution email client and give users quick and easy access to Gmail or any other Web-based email service.
HP today unveiled a device called the DreamScreen, which the company describes as a companion to the PC. Sort of a hybrid between a full-blown computer and a digital photo frame, the DreamScreen's 10.2-inch (DreamScreen 100) or 13.3-inch (DreamScreen 130) display doesn't support multi-touch, but users can control the panels through touch-enabled controls around the screen's border.
The idea here is to give consumers quick and portable access to music streams (Pandora and HP SmartRadio), weather forecasts, Facebook updates, photo albums, and more. It also comes with 2GB of built-in memory for storing pictures, music, and even movies.
"Constant always-on access to friends, information, and entertainment is a common expectation today," said Satjiv S. Chahil, senior vice president, worldwide marekting, Personal Systems Group, HP. "With HP DreamScreen, social media, web services, and digital entertainment can be enjoyed in more areas of the home."
If this all sounds familiar, it's because Apple is rumored to be working on a similar device, which could possibly see the light of day this November. But HP has beaten Apple to the punch, and probably will have undercut Apple's price point, should Jobs and Co. release a handheld tablet.
HP says the DreamScreen is available now for $249 from online distributors, including BestBuy.com, Amazon.com, and HPDirect.com. The DreamScreen 130 is expected to be "broadly available" sometime this fall for $299.