Update: Special competition announced: Lets win a HP TouchSmart! Click here
A quick introduction
Last night I was invited to attend the HP TouchSmart PC Blogger’s Event at the mod and cozy Brotzeit Bar in VivoCity. It was a really great event for me as apart from pressing, poking and hacking the gadget till my heart’s content I had a lot of fun putting faces bloggers whom I’ve only heard of or been Twittering with like the infamous Marina, Daphne and NTT.
Daphne and me!
Oh and I met NTT, Jerrick and Daniel, from Tech65 too! Bunch of fun guys!
The event started off with Hwee Koon (HP Director of Consumer PC & Handheld Business Units) giving a quick presentation of how the idea and concept of the TouchSmart came about with an emphasis on the idea of creating a touch screen PC that would revolutionize the way people used a PC and is small enough to fit into a messenger bag. By messenger bag, they don’t mean it will fit into your laptop but convenient to move from one place to another. It is after all a PC, not meant to be portable like your laptop.
The next part was about the purpose of the event which was to not only let us be the first in Singapore to toy with the prototypes but also gather feedback to be incorporated into future upgrades/versions of the product. At first I thought it was all just part of the PR “gimmick” to make us bloggers feel like we’re providing more value than just our blogs helping create some early publicity. However, upon conversing with the HP staff who were actively throwing us questions as we toyed with the gadget, I realize that they were quite serious about it (which of course motivated me to poke around more!).
“Touching” The Gadget!
Haha sorry if I’m looking sleepy! Kind of tired after work ^^;;;
The TouchSmart actually runs on Windows Vista but has a specially written by HP program called the HP TouchSmart Home which hosts applications made specially for the TouchSmart like Calendars, Photos, Music Player, Video Player and etc.
The interface is very intuitive and friendly where all the icons and buttons are really huge making it easy to navigate by sliding and dragging stuff around (although I have to admit it kind of reminds me of the iPhone). I tested out their multi-touch technology which they fervently refer to as “dual-touch” by performing the infamous 2 finger zoom in and out feature. The technology is definitely there but currently only the main menu supports it. They have not incorporated it into the other softwares or applications in the TouchSmart Home as of yet.
What I really like!
1) The huge high-resolution screen
The screen is really huge and sharp making it superb for watching videos, browsing through pictures and viewing notes. You can actually convert it into something akin to a fridge door where you have lots of “Post-It” notes with the Notes application. It really makes sense to do this as the touch technology makes it easy to write, drag and toss notes around.
2) Product design
Being like a flat panel and having a stand of its own, it is one of those devices that would be useful in the kitchen, living room or even on a shelf in the common area that would make your home look at lot more digital.
3) HP TouchSmart Home
I really like their software because it makes things intuitive even for a non-techy person like maybe a housewife or child. Even though the applications currently available are basic, the learning curve is quite flat making it easy for anyone to just poke around and get their favourite music/video playing in less than a minute.
1) The SDK
I hope they will release an SDK for their HP TouchSmart Home program so developers can start developing some useful applications catered to different customer segments for a variety of purposes. This will really help boost what the HP TouchSmart is capable of doing as I believe the software combined with the touch technology has the potential to bring a new dimension to the PC and make it a truly centralized digital home system that even a techno-phobic person can handle.
2) Ease of adding applications
I’m not sure whether the developers have already thought of this but the HP staff present were unsure of the mechanism for adding applications in the future when more are released. If they can create a function in the HP TouchSmart Home where users just press a button, get connected to the Internet, see a list of latest applications with descriptions, select the ones they want added and everything will be downloaded and installed automatically. This would keep consumers engaged and more able to pack the TouchSmart Home with applications to suit their daily needs and activities.
3) Pre-set Windows Vista settings to huge icons
Currently when the TouchSmart is booted up, it goes directly to your typical Windows Vista interface. It is great that it runs Windows Vista meaning you can still go on with your daily PC activities that are not supported by the TouchSmart Home software. However, using Windows Vista in its default settings and a hand is a HUGE PAIN because the selection menus were all built for the “point and click” mouse. You have to literally position your finger to quite a high precision to select what you want. Usability would improve tremendously if Windows Vista was already preset to huge icons and selection menus that are touch-friendly upon start up.
4) Skype Video-Conferencing!!
This is in my wishlist of applications. I would really love to see Skype incorporated into the TouchSmart Home. Imagine pressing a button that opens up your contact list, selecting someone you want to call and a video conference starts immediately! It’d be like picking up a phone to call someone, only diff is that this is on a touch screen with a high-resolution video. If this was possible, even my grandparents would know how to do video-conferencing. (I tried teaching them how to use Skype and it didn’t work. Too many things to click).
Some last words..
So that’s my account of the HP TouchSmart PC that has already been launched in Berlin(10th June) and will be launched in Singapore on 18th July (its coming to Asia quite fast I must say). Honestly, if I bought one I don’t think I would use it for heavy-usage like design/development work or hard-core gaming. Some casual games like Bejewelled and Diner Dash are fun to play on it but I would like to use it for things that I can’t do on my normal PC like those mentioned above that would enhance my digital lifestyle. Having said that, I am really thrilled by the technology and potential of it and am sort of impatient to see in what creative ways consumers use this device at the end of the day.
Alright! Before I leave, here are some pictures I took from the event. I’ll leave you to figure out who is who (and what is what) .
Links you might want to check out:
HP TouchSmart PC Announcement in Berlin
Great video demo from Claudia!
My Qik videos from this event (very low quality though due to bad lighting … )
Bernard’s account of the event