HP Touch-Screen Computer Sparks Debate - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Hardware & Infrastructure

HP Touch-Screen Computer Sparks Debate

Is the TouchSmart IQ770 the beginning of a new generation of computers or a flash in the pan?

Hewlett-Packard hopes to convince consumers to put aside their mouse and keyboard and let their fingers do the talking with their PC, sparking a debate among analysts on whether the company's new touch-screen machine could be the beginning of a new generation of computers.

The TouchSmart IQ770, which shipped at the end of January, isn't dependent on a stylus like today's tablet PCs, but lets people use their fingers to call up pictures, listen to music, and read notes left by other family members. People can use a stylus to write on the home computer's 19-inch screen, or use its wireless keyboard and mouse, but the innovation is in the finger-controlled interaction with the PC's software.

Product reviewers like the concept and the hardware, but the first-generation machine has gotten low marks for price -- it costs $1,800 -- and for being slow. Some of the software also has bugs, which HP will have to address in future versions.

Nevertheless, analysts on Thursday said HP is on to something. It's the first major computer maker to launch a finger-controlled touch-screen computer, and gets the thumbs up for going to market with something different in human-computer interaction -- an area that's been lacking in creativity for the 30 years PCs have been around. "In many ways, it's a revolutionary device," Sam Bhavnani, analyst for Current Analysis, says. "It highlights innovation from HP."

The less-than-stellar reviews the machine has gotten have focused on failures in the software, which Bhavnani said should improve in subsequent generations. "It's the first go around, and the software will improve over time," he said. "It's not like the touch screen doesn't work."

While agreeing that HP is on the right track, Harry Wang, analyst for Parks Associates, bristled at the price. People are unlikely to pay $1,800 to replace post-it notes on refrigerators or to watch TV, which is another function of the TouchSmart. "It's really based on whether [HP] can provide a low-cost alternative to the kitchen TV that can also offer relatively easy access to applications."

Wang believes the price would have to drop by $1,200 or more to be attractive to consumers as a kitchen appliance.

HP on Thursday said it could release less expensive TouchSmart models, and expected prices in general to drop as volume sales increased. Nevertheless, the company insisted the current price was justified because the machine is also a high-end PC running Windows Vista Premium.

As to the touch-screen hardware, the company was looking at other home devices where it could be used. "Now that it's out, there will be some new opportunities to bring additional experiences to customers," HP spokeswoman Ann Finnie says.

But not all analysts are hot on the touch-screen concept for computers. Jon Peddie, analyst and founder of Jon Peddie Research, says screens similar to the TouchSmart's were introduced 20 years ago in computer-aided design in engineering. When working in front of such a screen for long periods of time, designers found that their arms got tired really fast, Peddie said.

"[Touch screens] could augment the mouse, but they're not going to replace it anytime soon," Peddie said. "I don't see it being a significant contributor to productivity."

Nevertheless, analysts agree that time will tell whether HP eventually gets it right, and whether rivals Dell and Gateway decide to enter the ring.

This story was modified on March 1 to include comments from Hewlett-Packard.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
Download this report to compare how cloud usage and spending patterns have changed in 2020, and how respondents think they'll evolve over the next two years.
Top 10 Data and Analytics Trends for 2021
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  11/13/2020
Where Cloud Spending Might Grow in 2021 and Post-Pandemic
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  11/19/2020
The Ever-Expanding List of C-Level Technology Positions
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  11/10/2020
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
Why Chatbots Are So Popular Right Now
In this IT Trend Report, you will learn more about why chatbots are gaining traction within businesses, particularly while a pandemic is impacting the world.
White Papers
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll