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HP Invents - PC Concept & Design Innovation Tour

This thin Client laptop is much more conventional looking and the screen can be folded back onto to itself like a current tablet. As with current Tablet PCs you can write directly onto screens via a digital input pen, though we can expect the information to be transcribed much smoother and faster than can be done so today.

A key concept was rather than making lots of general purpose devices instead there will be a move towards making specific devices that do certain jobs very well. One example is a Digital Wallet. This keeps track of all digital transactions from current accounts and credit cards and can replace a cheque book.

This shelf and screen looks like an oversized iMac and is known as a Smart Shelf. The all important Watch is placed onto the shelf and from here it will automatically display messages and schedules on the larger screen and recharge while it doing so.

My favourite idea though was the coffee table that turns into an interactive display when you place the Tablets in the cut out rounded slot. From here the table becomes the display letting your share and edit, which the devices charge at the same time. I’ve seen smart furniture before, such as this table from Philips at last years CES and Bill Gates showed a similar concept as the same event, but this HP was the most elegant.

What Stacy Woolf of the Industrial Design Team then revealed some of the eclectic influences on HP design department that helped it come up with some of these concepts – from the Milan Furniture fair to more conventional technology sources such CES. He also used the term,’ Fashtronica’ as the melding of fashion and electronics. I admire the concept but it’s one of those mesh words I’m not sure I’d care to hear again.

Overall it was enlightening to get an insight into how HP thinks and certainly made a change from its more usual perception as a rather grey corporate machine.

After this future looks session it was up to Neil Dagger, Senior Manager for Mobility Products in the UK, to bring us down with a bump to looks at some current products, which will be released shortly. Most intriguing was the iPaq rx4240 Mobile Media Companion – it’s a Windows Mobile 5 device, but differs from the usual PDA design with a landscape aspect ratio and lots of curves. The screen isn’t widescreen and the resolution of ‘only’ QVGA, but the £200 RRP seems quite good going for a device that lets you play music and video and view photos or office documents and has SD card expansion. On first impressions it feels comfortable in the hand and usability is bolstered by buttons placed on the side. It sports Wi-Fi and it supports Skype and will be sold in PC World and Dixons.

The iPaq 5000 Travel Series is essentially a larger version featuring a bigger screen and has an integrated SiRF Star III GPS chip and TomTom Navigator 6 preinstalled.

I’ve never been convinced by GPS devices that can do more than basic navigation but I’m hopeful that these will prove to be the exception. The rx5720 has 512MB and features UK maps and will retail for £299, while the rx5935 will have 2GB built-in and European wide maps.

Finally, the iPaq rw6815 Personal Messenger is a Windows Mobile powered Smartphone, which no doubt Sandra will be getting her mitts on shortly. It will cost around £370 SIM free.


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