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HP Gets Ready To 'Kick Butt' In PC Gaming

The PC maker looks at filling a consumer need wedged between its HP and Voodoo product lines.
Hewlett-Packard plans to introduce this year a product line aimed at PC gamers underserved by the company's current portfolio.

The computer maker is being tight-lipped about the new brand, which would be more than just PCs, but would remain focused on entertainment, said Rahul Sood, chief technology officer for HP's Global Gaming unit.

HP offers three brands of computers: Compaq, HP, and Voodoo. Compaq machines are mostly low-end computers that target businesses and consumers in emerging markets. The HP brand is higher end with a greater focus on customization, entertainment, and design. Voodoo, acquired in September 2006 with the purchase of Voodoo Computers, is top-of-the-line with desktop prices that start at more than $3,000. These machines are powerful enough to be used as workstations for design professionals.

HP believes it needs a new product line to serve the market that exists between its two higher-priced brands. "There's a massive gap between Voodoo and HP, and we plan to fill that gap," Sood said. That area is currently being served by Dell's XPS line, which is heavily focused on pictures, video, and games. "We don't have a product directly positioned at XPS," Sood said.

HP, however, plans to change that, and gamers will "absolutely love what we're creating," Sood said, promising that some of Voodoo's boutique technology would move to the broader gaming market. "Later this year, we will be releasing products that seriously kick ass," he said.

In the meantime, HP's research labs on Wednesday introduced in San Francisco some of its latest innovations. Sood declined to discuss how the technology would be incorporated into the company's products, but said that the innovations were combined during the demonstrations with HP PCs to deliver "a very compelling, very immersive gaming experience."

One new technology was a 60-inch display called Panoply that curved away from viewers -- as if they were staring into a wide bowl -- to give them a feeling of being more of a part of the action on screen, whether it is a game or car chase in a movie. The high-definition screen could be scaled small or even larger, without degrading the resolution, Sood said.

In addition, HP showed off a "super projector" called PLurabis that was actually made up of multiple projectors in one unit. Because of its projector design, a person can walk in front of the device without casting a shadow, Sood said. The reason is other projectors can compensate when one or more are blocked. The image resolution is high enough for projecting games for multiple players on a big screen.

Other innovations included a mobile technology that HP calls Mscape. The application for handheld devices can integrate a GPS, or global positioning system, with a videogame, so a person's location could be incorporated in the game.

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