MUST SEE: The HP Sprout
The HP Sprout combines a PC, 3D scanner, projector, and keyless keyboard. Is it the wave of the future or a freak of nature? Read on to see what the Sprout can do and whether it’s worth its impressive price...
Post-PC Era? HP Says No!
In response to the increasing popularity of tablets and smartphones, many pundits have declared that we've entered the "Post-PC Era." It's as if we're all supposed to toss our desktop computers in the recycle bin and squeeze our digital lives onto a 4, 7 or 10-inch screen. I've never believed that the Day of the Desktop is over, and apparently HP doesn't think so, either.
The HP Sprout is a space-saving all-in-one desktop computing system, with everything that usually fills a bulky chassis neatly hidden in the flat-screen monitor and its stand. It has a modern touchscreen, but it also has a futuristic keyless, flexible Touch Mat surface that accepts touch input and displays virtual objects, including keys.
The silvery “shower head” that overhangs the monitor is the bendable part of the Illuminator Column which runs up the monitor’s back. The column houses a projector, scanner, and several cameras that detect infrared as well as visible light, capturing images in 3D with Intel’s RealSense technology which debuts in the Sprout.
The Illuminator (which I am sorely tempted to call The Spout) projects images down onto the flexible Touch Mat. There you go: now the images you’re supposed to touch are where your fingers can reach them easily, without stretching your arms over a temporarily useless keyboard to reach a vertical screen! The Touch Mat has a magnetic docking connector that eliminates cables and the vagaries of wireless links.
You now have two screens; one for input and the other for output. Using fingers or a stylus, you can draw on the Touch Mat comfortably while watching the results on the vertical screen. HP includes several apps that take advantage of this tech for things like scrapbooking, photo editing, and graphic design.
Going All-in With 3D Tech
The Touch Mat is also the scanning bed for documents and 3D objects that fit on the 20-inch mat. The 3D Snapshot software lets you stitch together several scans and see how an object looks from any angle. Then you can play with your virtual object using CAD and other 3D software, even converting it to data files for 3D printers to ooze into reality.
Speaking of 3D printers, HP also announced the HP Multi Jet Fusion, a 3D printer that promises to speed up the process by a factor of ten, by printing on multiple axes and applying multiple materials at once. You'll have to wait until some time in 2016 for that product.
I think it's amazing that we've almost reached the point where a person sitting at home can place an object in front of their computer and say "Make me one of these!"
Sprout: Specs and Apps
The Sprout is no slouch, sporting an 23-inch LED-backlit LCD monitor, 64-bit Intel Core i7-4790S processor, 8GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GT 745A with 2GB of DDR3 dedicated memory, and a 1TB hybrid drive that combines a 1TB hard drive with 8GB of solid-state memory for faster performance. Sprout run Windows 8.1 and comes with Beats Audio, which HP says gives you the "best-sounding, richest audio available on a PC." HP’s Workspace app makes available all the Touch Mat amenities.
Sprout comes with a Crayola app for kids, and Martha Stewart software for making your own cards, invitations and scrapbook pages. DreamWorks Story Pro lets you create DreamWorks animation movie scenes. Working while video conferencing is also possible with two screens, especially when the horizontal one is hidden from the view of other video conference participants. The bundled PianoTime app can be used to create real music, not just to peck out “Chopsticks” in an awkward vertical plane.
So is the Sprout for work, or scrapbooking and other consumer applications? The overall intention seems to be “work,” especially considering the system’s $1,899 list price. But clearly, the included software is designed to appeal to home users of all ages. My guess is that HP is testing the waters, to see where the demand spectrum lies for a product like this.
The brilliant obviousness of the two-screen paradigm makes me think this design is the inevitable future of most touch-centric desktop systems. Why have we waited so long for it?
The HP Sprout is shipping now, with an estimated delivery time of 11 calendar days. Best Buy and Microsoft stores will have them starting November 9th. As of this writing, they are offering a discount of 8 percent, free 2-day shipping, and free returns.
What do you think about the Sprout? Is there still a place in your life for desktop PCs? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 6 Nov 2014
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- MUST SEE: The HP Sprout (Posted: 6 Nov 2014)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved