HP Spruces Up Image with New Touch-Screen Desktop PCs

HP now has put a great deal of corporate emphasis on product design, appearance, user experience and ergonomics to go with its existing under-the-hood power.

Hewlett-Packard, whose new CEO says he wants the company to become known as a "cool" computer maker, unveiled its new spring line of desktop PCs Feb. 7. There are certainly some new features in these machines that fit his description.

CEO Leo Apotheker said recently in an interview with the BBC at the Davos international financial summit: "I hope one day people will say 'This is as cool as HP,' not 'as cool as Apple.'"

That day might not be that far off. There's no question that the big corporation, long known for respected enterprise and consumer products but also for being a bit on the bland side, is getting there -- computer by computer.

HP now has put a great deal of corporate emphasis on product design, appearance, user experience and ergonomics to go with its existing under-the-hood power. This sense of style in addition to substance is starting to break through into the public consciousness.

HP's newest desktops all offer a combination of HD touch screen and keyboard/mouse operation. There are a couple of interesting new differentiators: A patented new ergonomic feature that enables the desktop monitor to slide down to a 60-degree angle to accommodate many different types of use cases; the other is a new HPLinkUp application that allows a user to operate the desktop of another computer within WiFi range.

Go here to view a slide show on the new HP products.

Why would someone want to operate a nearby computer from a larger touch screen within the same WiFi network? A user may find it easier and more efficient to handle photos, video, large documents and other files using the larger touch screen. Collaboration with someone else also is much easier.

As long as both computers are within WiFi range of each other, LinkUp, which is a proprietary HP application not connected with BlueTooth, works smoothly. One caveat: The smaller computer's screen goes dark and is unusable when it's being usurped by the larger computer.

HP spent a lot of time and effort to come up with a new monitor carriage that looks simple but is a first on the market. The computer slides down (with the bottom going toward the user) to as far as a 60-degree angle -- without changing the footprint of the unit.

Shared Computing a Focal Point

HP is positioning its big screen (23-inch monitor) TouchSmart desktops as good for being centrally located in a kitchen, family room, game room or other gathering-place-type area in a residence so that more than one person can use them at the same time. This better enables collaborative activities such as book reading, game-playing and school studies. The large monitors and sensitive touch screen performance lend themselves well to these tasks.

HP's rotating carousel-design desktop for finding various applications on its new 23-inch TouchSmart Elite 610 and Elite 9300 desktop PCs definitely takes a cue from Apple; users will find it fun to manipulate and very functional.

The new touch screens, which will become available this spring, range in price from $750 to about $1,000, depending upon options. They start at 1TB of storage capacity, run on multicore Intel processors and feature the high-end Beats audio system.

HP will introduce its newest Envy laptops on Feb. 8.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...