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HP Goes Crazy With New Products

HP's been busy, and in some surprising ways. It has always been an inventive, engineering-oriented company, but other than its printers (where it continues to reign supreme), the company hasn't been a consistent winner in the desktop and consumer space. At CES it showed off an impressive (and overwhelming) array of technology, from its TouchSmart interface to its high-end displays to its netbooks and light notebooks to its home media appliance.
HP's been busy, and in some surprising ways. It has always been an inventive, engineering-oriented company, but other than its printers (where it continues to reign supreme), the company hasn't been a consistent winner in the desktop and consumer space. At CES it showed off an impressive (and overwhelming) array of technology, from its TouchSmart interface to its high-end displays to its netbooks and light notebooks to its home media appliance.Here's the video.

Let's start with TouchSmart. Lots of companies are rushing to create touch-screen interfaces on small devices, especially mobile phones, but the trend is bleeding into netbooks and now bigger PCs. HP's TouchSmart sits on top of Microsoft Vista and now has been modified for the 25-inch All-in-One PC/Display and HP's tablet PC. That might all be nifty, but it also has extended its APIs to let customers write specialized applications. HP showed a McDonald's application where a customer could order a (fattening, sugary) drink via the touch-screen interface.

HP also has been hard at work on the industrial design side, turning out a gaming console, the Firebird, from its acquisition of Voodoo. It is liquid cooled so it's very quiet, and all the cabling is neatly hidden. HP also worked with DreamWorks on an LCD display that can show a billion colors (vs the typical 16.7 million).

HP had a flurry of netbooks, which it calls Companion PCs, which is ... nice. It has a sparkling, colorful version designed by Vivienne Tam for the people who want to get dressed alongside a PC, I guess, and its newest "companion PC" has eight hours of battery life.

But HP was most proud of its lightweight notebook, the DV2, which runs on the AMD Athlon processor, is as thin as the Apple MacBook Air, and weighs less than 4 pounds. Price tag: $699. It doesn't include an optical drive.

Finally, HP showed us its media server (personal systems group VP David Roman wasn't in love with that term, because it signifies a level of complexity that can scare consumers), a device that can act as a central hub for storing and sharing and backing up all of your images and files throughout the home or a small office.

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Mary E. Shacklett, President of Transworld Data
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer