HP v Apple with touch PCs and super-slim notebooks

10 Jun 2008

BERLIN: Today signified a distinct shift in direction for HP as the company unveiled several brand new consumer products indicating a desire, as noted by Satjiv Chahil, senior vice-president for global marketing with HP’s personal systems group, to create products with a ‘wow’ factor.

As Chahil and his collegaues introduced the new TouchSmart all-in-one PC with intuitive user interface that lets the user drag, drop, resize and flick through their onscreen media, it comes as no surprise that prior to joining HP, he was general manager of the entertainment and new media division within style icon Apple.

The new TouchSmart IQ500 barely resembles the first-generation machine which had some touch interface but was limited in comparison to the variety of fingertip interactions available in the latest incarnation. With a few flicks of the fingers, users can resize pictures, drag and drop songs to create personal playlists and navigate through their music collection (the latter slightly resembles the iTunes slideshow on the iPhone and iPod Touch in looks and feel).

The TouchSmart is the flagship product of the HP ‘Connecting Your World’ event, which features the running theme of ‘making the PC personal again’.

“The HP TouchSmart PC is all about reinventing the personal computer experience,” said Achim Kuttler, vice-president and general manager, consumer products, personal systems group, HP Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

“We’re changing personal computing from just feeds and speeds to an experience based on a customer’s needs and influenced by consumer trends and design.”

The TouchSmart all-in-one will be available across Europe from late August.

The second biggest announcement of the morning was the arrival of the Voodoo Envy notebook: only 0.7-inches thick, 3.4lbs in weight, with a removeable battery and backlight keyboard that lights up automatically when fingers rest on the keys.

The outstanding feature of this slick machine with a carbon fibre chassis is the ability to go completely wireless: even when a wireless internet connection is not available, the user can plug an Ethernet cable into the jack on the power brick and a Wi-Fi connection is established. The Voodoo Envy is priced at €2099.

A major theme running through HP’s new announcements across business, consumer and commercial was the emphasis on partnerships, such as with Microsoft and AMD, and the importance of these partnerships in developing new products and driving innovation within the company, as well as the US€3.5bn invested in R&D on an annual basis.

HP also stressed the importance of the net generation, those aged between 13 and 31, and how this demographic is their single largest buyer and influences the entire market.

With this generation in mind, HP has partnered with MTV to bring the Engine Room, an online reality TV show that encourages young people to get creative with digital media by setting weekly challenges like creating new pieces of music or shooting original film pieces.

TV ads for the new show will start running in two weeks time.

By Marie Boran