Personal Computers

HP Readies New PCs for the Windows 7 Party

HP has released a slew of new PCs — both desktop and notebooks — that leverage its growing investment in touchscreen technology ahead of Microsoft’s Windows 7 release.

The products target just about every buying constituency there is, from college students seeking affordable notebooks to businesses interested in upgrading to high-end desktops and laptops.

Touchscreen Product Line

HP TouchSmart 600

HP TouchSmart 600
(click image to enlarge)

In the touchscreen category, it introduced several products geared toward consumers.

The HP TouchSmart 600 and the HP TouchSmart 300 come equipped with Hulu Desktop and a Netflix application — among several other Web 2.0 apps — and sport a swivel stand and tilt webcam. The HP TouchSmart 600 starts at US$1,049 and is expected Oct. 22. The HP TouchSmart 300, starting at $899, is expected by Nov. 1.

The HP TouchSmart tx2 notebook PC has a tablet form-factor and comes equipped with several entertainment applications and functions, including exclusive touch-enabled games and Corel Painter Sketch Pad for creating digital art. It weighs 4.65 pounds, features a 12.1-inch diagonal widescreen integrated touchscreen convertible display and AMD Turion dual-core processors. The HP TouchSmart tx2 retails for $799 and is expected to be available Oct. 22.

HP also introduced new touchscreen PCs for business users.

The HP TouchSmart 9100 Business PC targets the middle-tier business user, providing videoconferencing capabilities and other multimedia features. It has a 23-inch diagonal full HD widescreen display. Other features include DVI output and configure-to-order options including a choice of Microsoft Windows 7 32-bit or 64-bit operating system and an Intel Core 2 Duo processor. The HP TouchSmart 9100 starts at $1,299 and is expected to be available in December.

The HP LD4200tm is arguably HP’s favorite child. Among other special effects, it features a 42-inch diagonal high-definition screen with a 178 x 178 degree viewing angle and infrared technology — which recognizes multitouch gestures for on-screen interaction with video, graphics or text in both bright and dim lighting. The HP LD4200tm’s starting price is $2,799, and it’s expected to be available in December.

New Business Series

HP also introduced an affordable new ProBook b-series — the HP ProBook 6445b and HP ProBook 6545b — as well as the HP Elite 7000 Business Desktop PC.

The Probooks are the first in a series of business product launches HP has planned over the next few months for businesses that want to upgrade existing hardware — hopefully in conjunction with the upcoming release of Windows 7. Key selling points for the HP ProBook 6445b and HP Probook6545b are flexible battery options and a range of wireless connectivity choices. Battery life has improved 60 percent — for up to 8 hours and 15 minutes of use — while performance improved 39 percent, according to the specs. The HP ProBook b-series will be available in mid-November for $799.

The HP Elite 7000 Business Desktop PC, billed as the company’s highest-performance small business desktop to date, comes with Windows 7, DDR3 memory support, the Intel P55 Express chipset and achoice of Intel Core i5 and i7 processors. It can support 8 gigabytes of memory, a 1 terabyte hard drive and an array of bays and ports. The Elite desktop is expected to be available Oct. 22 for $789.

Compaq Family

HP also added to its Compaq product line.

The new additions are the Compaq Presario CQ61z notebook PC, which starts at $399; the $309 Compaq Presario 4010f desktop PC, which includes an AMD Sempron processor, Nvidia GeForce integrated graphics and a 250 gigabyte hard drive; and the Compaq 500B desktop PC, which comes with the Windows 7 operating system and starts at $359.

HP could not provide comments for this story in time for publication.

The Problems With New Technology

It is good to see products being released with the long-awaited Windows 7 operating system, Rob Stanpolito, analyst with Directions on Microsoft, told TechNewsWorld.

However, there are still hardware and software compatibility glitches, said Stanpolito, who has been testing the OS for a few months.

“It is almost surprising for what seems like such a promising environment — but based on my early testing, I think new products like these HP rollouts will experience their fair share of debugging,” he commented.

There are also some issues concerning the touchscreen technology, IDC analyst Bob O’Donnell told TechNewsWorld.

HP has been a leading developer of touchscreen technology, working on it as a competitive differentiator for the last 18 months.

“They’ve also done a lot of custom software to make sure it works with Windows 7,” noted O’Donnell.

The result — in theory — will be products that can leverage Windows 7 but still retain the unique HP image, he said.

The problem is that touchscreen technology is still deployed in a vacuum, he added.

“One of its challenges is that there is little software in the industry that actually takes advantage of touch — it is one of the reasons why tablets never took off,” O’Donnell said.

App developers want to see the hardware in place before they begin work, he noted, and that tendency can turn into a vicious marketing timing cycle. Even with HP’s mass rollout, it is still unclearwhether app developers will respond, O’Donnell said.

“With Windows 7, touch will gain more recognition, but it will take a year to 18 months before we know whether it’ll be enough.”

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