MUST SEE: The HP Sprout

Category: Hardware

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.

HP Sprout PC scanner projector

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...

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Most recent comments on "MUST SEE: The HP Sprout"

(See all 21 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

06 Nov 2014

I personally have trouble with the all in one technology. If all of the individual components were plugged in to a power source (main PC) it would look more attractive.
Think about the TV/DVD player devices. If the DVD head crashes you have to replace the whole thing when there may not be anything wrong with the TV.

Posted by:

06 Nov 2014

I also like the concept of the 2-screen system, but the projector configuration is a bit clunky. It would be nice if the horizontal input touch screen is an exact electronic copy of the output vertical screen, perhaps with slightly lower resolution made of cheaper material like OLED. The horizontal screen would be switchable to function either as a regular keyboard or a touch screen, or have both functions on at the same time. Also, I don't think the mouse is going to disappear anytime soon, especially for applications requiring a high-resolution pointing device. A human finger is just too fat.

Posted by:

John L.
06 Nov 2014

The Touch Mat certainly makes more sense than a touch screen for a desktop PC. Since the 'system' is compact with no cables, what about a handled case for portability? What is the weight of this package, anyway? Could be handy for presentations.

Posted by:

D Baldwin
06 Nov 2014

YES! I for one would be very interested in the Sprout. I am a commercial embroiderer and use software that requires a lot of screen work. It is very heavy on the graphics. This would be ideal. It is a little pricey, but that may come down if enough are sold. The desktop is still alive and well in our household.

Posted by:

06 Nov 2014

I would love to work with one of these, but the price tag will keep me away.

Re the MultiJet Fusion: Will we ever be able to say "Tea. Earl Grey, hot" then sit down with a copy of Moby Dick? (sorry for those of you who don't get the reference)

Posted by:

06 Nov 2014

Wish I was still working so I c2ould get one of those.

Posted by:

06 Nov 2014

My desktop is not going away anytime soon. There are too many things that are too difficult to do on a tiny screen with a miniscule keyboard and little ram. This device is not as powerful (Ram & hard drive)as my desktop but may, however, have a future if more reasonably priced and powerful(Ram & hard drive.

Posted by:

06 Nov 2014

Hello Bob,
The Sprout sounds fantastic. Any idea if and when it will be available in the UK?


Posted by:

06 Nov 2014

I would love to have one, but I'm afraid my wife would freak out if I came home with yet another computer (currently have 5 PC's, 2 tablets, 1 Kindle, 1 Ipad and 5 smart phones)no matter how 'cool' it is, and this one does sound very cool. I actually saw a commercial for it on TV the other day. Although I wasn't really paying attention to it until I saw it projecting down on the the horizontal pad. Well, Christmas is coming, maybe with enough hints...

Posted by:

Elizabeth Landry
06 Nov 2014

Dear Bob,
Is the Sprout going to have built in privacy that is backed by HP that will pay you damages if your creations get hacked?
For that amount of money it should. Peace, E

Posted by:

06 Nov 2014

I am an old fashion old codger and for those who like stuff like the HP Sprout by all means go for it. I myself will stick with what I am using and am happy with.

Posted by:

Donald Biddix
07 Nov 2014

H P Sprout---(+=_-*&^%$#@!!!!)

Posted by:

07 Nov 2014

When the illuminator is projecting onto the mat are'nt your fingers providing an obtrusive shadow?

Posted by:

07 Nov 2014


Posted by:

07 Nov 2014

I do see this, as the wave of the future, for using computers. I don't like the price, but, as one other person already stated, if, many are sold, the price will come down, eventually.

As for the components that are installed, they seem fine, at least to me. The only one, I wouldn't want, is Windows 8.1. At this price, I would wait for Windows 10, to be the OS.

Since, many computer users really don't understand, the office computer can and frequently is, small in stature and does NOT have most of the "bells and whistles", that many of consumers have or for those, who build their own systems ... Which for me, is still the BEST way, to have a Desktop!!! Self Built Systems are personalized and are the only way to go, especially if, you are a Gamer!!!

However, the HP Sprout seems not bad, not bad, at all, to me. Again, it's the price, that hold me back, big time. Right now, I have an "Off Lease" Dell Optiplex 960 Desktop, that has an Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo E8500 3.16 GHz, 8GB of Memory, Winodws 7 Professional 64 Bit OS and it is doing the job!!! Oh, I wish I could get a new Graphic Card, since, this Desktop has Intel(R) Graphics Media Accelerator Driver, instead of an independent Graphics Card. I will just have to wait, until this one goes out. Right now, it is doing fine.

Posted by:

07 Nov 2014

Thie "projected keyboard" idea does have at least two drawbacks. First, like a prior poster pointed out (yes I like to go for alliterations) there is the issue of one's fingers casting shadows in such a way you may not be able to see the "keys." And also with such a nice, flat, inviting surface area, it will be taken over by the cat anyway, who will probably enjoy not having to lie on that lumpy old physical keyboard. However I admit it will make taking scans of said cat a lot easier for the 3D printer files (okay, a "CAT Scan" joke...)

Posted by:

08 Nov 2014

I won't be ditching my desktop any time soon for this high priced system. The top down projection seems like a bad idea to me. Your hands would constantly be in the way of the projected image while using it. Why not create a bottom lit touch pad to eliminate this problem and reserve the projector for scanning?

Posted by:

09 Nov 2014

Re: I am an old fashion old codger...
Hey Bob, you laughed when a guy twenty years older than you said the same thing about his beeper.

Posted by:

23 Nov 2014

DPCRN....make it so!!

Posted by:

Alan M.
24 Nov 2014

Every day we are getting closer to the computers shown in Science Fiction movies. Talk to it, listen to it. No keyboard or mouse to mess with.

The desktop by no means is dead. It may get considerably smaller in-so-far-as the CPU console goes. The monitors however will keep getting bigger, possibly projection to wall sized. Or 3-D projection like in Ironman,Disclosure,etc.

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