Earlier this week in Germany, HP had one of their big bang product launches. Unfortunately, it came right after the new iPhone launch so I doubt many of you actually were aware this happened. Still, they refreshed a lot of things. They came out with business laptops which include the first built-in business card scanners and they had the first consumer laptop line to use liquid metal extensively on the product (looks like the keyboard is floating on polished steel). They also had a new set-top box which is arguably the best Media Center extender currently in the market. They announced a number of new printers with the Officejet J4680 likely being the most advanced affordable all-in-one product ever released (don’t rush out it to buy it as it won’t show up until August).
But the three that stood out were the All-In-One Multi-Touch TouchSmart and new Voodoo $7,000 desktops, and the Apple Air stomping (from a standpoint of performance) ultra-thin Voodoo Envy laptop. Let’s talk about those.
The first TouchSmart had a cool touch interface but it was kind of a dog to look at and the keyboard and mouse were really cheap. The new TouchSmart 2.0 is a whole new beast it is a monolithic design and taking design elements from HP’s new metal and black laptops. It’s big in a 22” wall mountable configuration and HP has made major enhancements to the touch interface making this the first multi-touch capable desktop that has hit the segment potentially beating both Apple and Microsoft to market in the PC segment by 18 months.
As with the iPhone you can size certain things (like pictures) by using several fingers but this is just an initial use of this technology and I expect future versions will be much more capable.
It’s actually an amazingly good looking box and starting at around $1,200 is very affordable for something that is positioned as a premium product. As before it has full media-center capability and built in Tuners. This worth seeing because it represents what may be the future of desktop PCs.
New Voodoo Envy
If there was ever a more appropriate name than the Voodoo Envy I don’t know of it. This line has always been on my short list of products to lust for and I’ve never actually had one. Half an inch thick and 3.4 pounds without the massive tradeoffs the Macbook Air makes but that will likely come at a cost – this is Voodoo after all.
Like the Apple it comes with either a 64GB SSD drives (newer and faster than the Apple shipped with) or an 80G (read slow) magnetic drive. Because it is Voodoo, you should get a choice of colors eventually although it starts out in black. Like Apple, the touchpad supports multi-touch but the screen doesn’t and the keyboard is backlit with LEDs.
Image Courtesy of VoodooPC
It has a unique power supply with an integrated Ethernet Jack to keep some of the cables off the desk. Unlike Apple, it has a replicable battery and they claim battery life in the high 3 hour range; no extended battery option is yet available. It has one USB port and one unique eSata/USB combination port which I don’t recall seeing before.
The Envy also has a quick boot system called “Instant On” which pops you quickly into an embedded environment for things like email and some multimedia applications. This is kind of like having a blended PC and Mobile Internet Device (MID) in the same product. This has been tried before with mixed results and I’m told this version is much better.
Where this is low-performing is in graphics department and I never thought I’d see the day that a Voodoo product would use Intel Integrated graphics, so we’ll have to wait until we can benchmark this thing to see if it really fits within the Voodoo DNA.
This does make it a natural for the AMD/ATI XGP technology I mentioned the other day which provides for high performance external graphics, and I would expect to see something like that on a product like this first to finish the solution.
I’ve the Envy in person and it looks much better up close and personal, but I’d really like to see this in custom paint; color morphing paint in particular would be magical on a product like this.
I had my doubts about this new Voodoo Omen system when I initially saw it; at first I was less than impressed with the design. In final form it is stunning and the first product I’ve played with where a built-in screen wasn’t more of a pain in the butt than a benefit. Most PCs with built-in screens tie the small secondary screen into the graphics card which then wants to make it a primary display and fixing that is a real pain in the butt.
In this instance the screen uses another adapter and with the included software can just be focused on displaying the limited information that makes sense on a case-mounted screen and not putting the entire UI on it.
Inside this system would make Steve Jobs proud as the fit and finish is even better than it was with the Blackbird which had some raw unfinished surfaces inside the case. At an estimated $7,000 price for some configurations it better be nice inside though and this one doesn’t disappoint.
The Omen is the first desktop system from Voodoo with the ports on the top and full shrouding for the cables. The slotted top of the case comes off and underneath are all of your connectors. This means you don’t have to crawl under your desk to check connections or to disconnect this puppy and the cables come out in a bundle not in the rats nest you typically see coming out of the product. This makes for the cleanest back on any PC tower I have ever seen.
This is first product I’ve seen with a liquid cooled power supply coupled with aggressive cooling (you name it can be liquid cooled). You can even pick the color of the liquid and I’m told there will be a windowed side panel available later.
This system can be configured with an Intel Quad core processor and up to 4 graphics cores making that extreme cooling capability really important (though I’ll bet it will heat your office or room nicely regardless).
In the end, this system will put a smile on the face of anyone who can afford it and envy in the hearts of most who see it. Omen indeed.
Wrapping Up: More to Come
August is typically the time we see the PC vendors really ramp there lines and HP is clearly getting an early start. But this means we are likely to see a wave of cool new products from a variety of vendors competing for your ever scarcer dollar. That makes for a really good second half for all of us and almost makes me look forward to the end of summer, almost…