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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

September 7, 2011 at 1:30 PM

HP unveils touchable desktops, ready for Windows 8?

Hewlett-Packard unveiled a line of new “all in one” desktop PCs, including touchscreen models that look like good candidates for running Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system.

They range in price from $399 to $899 for the base models, with screen sizes ranging from 20 to 23 inches diagonally and touches like HDMI output and slot-loading disc drives on some models.

HP TouchSmart 320 AIO Consumer PC_Left Facing_Keyboard_Mouse_App Screen.jpg

HP already offers some of the nicest all-in-one Windows machines, which stuff the computing hardware behind the monitor. They’re not as gorgeous as Apple’s iMac but they cost around half as much, which puts the convenient “computing console” design into reach for mainstream buyers.

There’s growing interest in this style of PC, according to market data HP provided in its release. During July, 34 percent of consumer desktop sales were all-in-one systems, according to NPD.

Business users also plan to buy more all-in-ones, which take up less space and don’t need a bunch of wires connected. Among “commercial PC users,” plans to buy an all-in-one will grow to 15.7 percent from 9.9 percent over the next 12 months, according to IDC research.

“The popularity of the all-in-one form factor continues to grow, and HP’s contribution to this market is significant,” Todd Bradley, executive vice president of HP’s personal systems group, said in the release.

Yet HP is still thinking about jettisoning its PC business under a reorganization announced last month that walloped the company’s stock.

The systems announced today include redesigned TouchSmart desktops – the more powerful models with touchscreen displays. They have a silver external frame design and base, upgraded “Beats” audio systems and screens that tilt back up to 30 degrees.. They also come with new version of HP’s desktop software that emulates the Mac desktop, with application icons spread across the bottom of the screen.

The new PCs – especially the ones with the powerful, latest-generation Intel Core processors – will presumably work well with Windows 8, which has Microsoft’s “Metro style” interface displaying a group of large tiles on the desktop. They are tapped or clicked to launch programs, and can be rearranged and customized, similar to the way you can change the display on phones running Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 software.

metro.png

HP didn’t mention Windows 7 at all in its release – perhaps because of its cool relationship with Microsoft – and declined to comment specifically on whether the new systems are being designed with Windows 8 in mind. It didn’t mention anything about offering these PCs with its WebOS software, although that was the direction it was headed earlier this year.

The emailed response to my question about whether the new touch computers were designed with Windows 8 in mind:

“HP knows people expect a lot from their technology – from the overall design to the user experience. Our new all-in-ones were designed with this in mind, combining a full featured PC and a high definition display into an elegant, modern design that complements the user’s environment instead of trying to define it.”

HP also updated are the designs of its lower-end all-in-one desktops without touch input. The $399 models is rounded and funkier looking, like the budget all-in-one “net tops” offered by companies such as Asus, MSI and Lenovo.

Only partial details of the hardware were available, but here’s what I was able to find out about the lineup and processors:

Omni 120, 20″ screen, available Sept. 21, starting price of $399.

– Base configuration includes: AMD dual core processor, 2GB memory, 320GB hard drive, ATI Radeon graphics, wired keyboard and mouse

Omni 220, 21.5″ screen, available Sept. 11; starting price of $799

-Base configuration includes: Intel core i3 processor, 4GB memory, 750GB hard drive, Intel HD graphics, wired keyboard and mouse

TouchSmart 320 (shown above) 21.5″ screen, available Oct. 2; starting price of $599

-Base configuration includes: AMD dual core processor, 2GB memory, 320GB hard drive, ATI Radeon graphics, wireless keyboard and mouse

TouchSmart 420, 23″ screen, available Sept. 11; starting price of $699

-Base configuration includes: Intel core i3 processor, 3GB memory, 500GB hard drive, Intel HD graphics, wireless keyboard and mouse

TouchSmart 520, 23″ screen, available Sept. 11; starting price of $899

-Base configuration includes: Intel core i3 processor, 4GB memory, 750GB hard drive, Intel HD graphics, wireless keyboard and mouse

Also announced were two new TouchSmart models for business customers.

Here’s the $399 Omni 120:

HP Omni 120 AIO Consumer PC_Left Facing_Bridge Screen.jpg

Here’s the $699 TouchSmart 420:

HP TouchSmart 520 AIO Consumer pC_Front View_Keyboard_Mouse 2.jpg

The $799 Omni 220:

A side view of the $899 TouchSmart 520:

HP TouchSmart 520 AIO Consumer PC_Right Profile.jpg

Comments | Topics: Core i3, desktop PC, HP

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