Windows Trips Up H-P's Giant 'iPad' Bet
Called a business-class, touch-enabled all-in-one PC, the 9300 will be recognized by Apple users immediately. It's the iPad meets the iMac -- a giant touch-controlled screen, a keyboard and all the the bits of a computer all hidden inside a single box that sits on the desk.
By no means is the 9300 shabby. The unit features a marvelous 23-inch diagonal display, which looks great and pivots easily, so it's always effortless to view. The techno guts are stuffed into a well-designed enclosure that is, at most, about 4 inches thick. And the thing packs serious business punch: an Intel Core i7 processor, a full terabyte of storage -- that's more power and space than you will ever need. Plus seven (count 'em!) USB 2.0 ports, a DVD drive and a fantastic keyboard, among many nice features.
But the actual business user experience? That is most definitely does not pack star power.
The touch factor of this PC is limited by, guess what, Microsoft Windows 7. Yes, it's cool that I do not need to noodle with my mouse to make fixes as I write this story. With the 9300, I simply reach out, touch the Word document on the screen and delete the offending bits. But actually using these touch features with the mouse-oriented Windows 7 feels -- and I'm being kind here -- bush league.
That's a limitation, Marenin says, H-P is fully aware of.
The transition to a fully fleshed-out, deeper touch-control paradigm will begin in measured steps over the next 18 months, he said. Today's mostly Windows 7-based touch machines, like this 9300, support a technology called optical touch.
But starting this summer a more complex so-called "Projective Capacitive Touch" will emerge that supports more fingers -- up to 10, or even more for some machines. It will be built to work with touch-friendly Windows 8, due out at the same time.
Windows 8's touch features are such a big draw for H-P that the company is betting that touch-controlled computing may become PCs for the company.
"I can see a time when eventually all PCs in the line will be touch-enabled," Marenin says. "The touch distinction will end as a marketing concept."