CES - HP offers touchscreen Vista on new PCs

HP will launch a notebook and desktop PC that allow users to control Windows Vista through touchscreen commands instead of mouse clicks

HP is reaching for the consumer market with two new PCs that allow customers to control Microsoft's Windows Vista OS with a touchscreen interface instead of a mouse.

The TouchSmart IQ770 PC is a desktop computer with 19-inch screen intended for the tech-savvy mom, while the Pavilion tx1000 is an entertainment-focused notebook for students, with a 12.1-inch screen.

While HP has made tablet PCs and handheld iPAQ devices before, the company has never used touchscreens in notebook PCs and has used them in only one desktop model, sold in the late 1980s, said Kevin Wentzel, technical marketing manager for HP's mobility global business unit. A finger touch has no effect on most tablet PCs, since their screens use digitized panels that react only to an active stylus.

Users of handhelds and PDAs would find the Pavilion tx1000's touchscreen interface familiar, Wentzel said. HP built the notebook with a hinged screen, so the display rotates to face away from the keyboard for a sleek movie-playing appearance, and it folds completely over the keyboard to become a tablet PC.

To accommodate media-hungry users, the notebook came with 1GB of RAM and used a dual-core Turion 64 X2 processor from AMD, Wentzel said, as he showed off the PC during the CES trade show in Las Vegas. One downside of running Vista on a notebook ws the high battery power required to support the necessary graphics card, memory and processor. The tx1000 could play DVDs for 2.5 hours on a single battery charge, he said.

Future versions of the product will include an integrated wireless WAN card, and a Sling Media player that allows users to reach content remotely by using a Slingbox in their home.

The TouchSmart desktop PC takes the touchscreen experience even further by running HP's SmartCenter software as the primary interface for Windows Vista. With large icons, integrated TV tuner and shortcuts to other media, the PC was built to be the hub of a range of family activities, North American product marketing manager for PCs, Garret Gargan, said.

Users can write virtual sticky-notes for other family members, then touch-and-drag the notes onto an on-screen calendar or bulletin board. Likewise, photographers can crop or rotate pictures by stroking them on-screen. The large monitor completely obscures the computer and optional printer built behind it. Like the notebook, the desktop uses AMD's Turion 64 X2 processor.

HP will begin selling the Pavilion tx1000 on February 28 through its online store for US$1299, and will sell the TouchSmart PC in the US by the end of January for $US1799. The company also plans to launch the desktop in the UK by February, then roll it out to other countries throughout 2007.

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