HP aims TouchSmart desktop PC at businesses

Company offers support option not available on consumer systems

Hewlett-Packard Thursday unveiled an all-in-one touch-screen-enabled desktop for businesses and large organizations, extending its growing line of TouchSmart PCs.

The new dx9000, introduced at the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, is a rebranded version of HP's TouchSmart IQ504t computer with a slightly faster processor, the same 22-in. LCD touch screen and a higher starting price (US$1,399 versus $1,149), according to Kirk Godkin, North American manager for business desktop PCs at HP.

HP first introduced TouchSmart desktop models for consumers at the CES show two years ago.

HP also offers a TouchSmart consumer laptop, the tx2, which it released in November.

HP thinks the new dx9000 could appeal to a wide range of businesses.

"Style is definitely becoming important, whether you are a small business or a big corporation," he said. While he conceded that the appeal of Apple's Macintosh computers has captured the heart of many consumers, especially younger ones, Godkin said that he hopes that the dx9000 can prove "to be the business PC you want to date -- and marry."

HP is offering a business service and support package for the dx9000. The package is not available for the four TouchSmart desktop models for consumers.

Godkin said the new model could also appeal to elementary schools seeking an easy-to-use PC for students in early grades, or a wall-mountable information kiosk-type device for parents and visitors.

Hotels looking to offer a stylish PC for guests to use in lobbies or upscale suites should also look at the new model, he said. Besides adding a "sexy and modern look-and-feel," the dx9000 has the advantage of being more conspicuous than a laptop if someone tries to steal it, said Godkin.

HP is the only major PC vendor to launch touch-screen PCs ahead of the release of Microsoft Windows 7, which is expected to bring sophisticated multitouch touch-screen capabilities.

Richard Shim, an analyst at IDC, thinks touch-screen PCs have a lot of potential.

"It makes a lot of sense," he said. "When you're trying to mouse across a 25-in. screen, it can get annoying when have to pick up your mouse three times because you keep running out of desk."

Unlike another long-talked-about interface technology -- voice commands -- a touch screen doesn't require a significant boost in PC processing power, said Shim. And touch screens are inherently very intuitive, he added.

One problem for vendors like HP is that "the full potential won't be realized until there are a lot of apps built for touch screens," he said, and that is unlikely to happen until Windows 7 ships, likely at the end of 2009 or early 2010.

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