HP has thrown its weight behind the concept of a desktop PC as a shared information centre, with the introduction of an upgraded touchscreen PC that lets users record video notes for other family members to view.
Designed to sit in a kitchen or living room, the HP TouchSmart IQ775 PC has an interactive touchscreen that allows users to perform basic computing actions and schedule activities.
Touching the PC's 19in LCD fires up applications and users can leave virtual post-it notes containing voice and video message for other family members. For example, mothers can leave instructions for children, said Ann Finnie, a spokeswoman for HP.
"It's a nice central place for family members to interact with each other," Finnie said.
See our review of the first-generation HP TouchSmart IQ770 PC
The PC comes with specialised software that takes advantage of the touchscreen interface. HP SmartCenter software, designed specifically for touch and built on top of Windows Vista Home Premium, creates a page of quick links and favourite applications on the PC. In SmartCalendar, a part of SmartCenter, users can maintain schedules or leave voice and video messages for others, Finnie said. HP Photosmart Touch edits and organizes digital photos.
It comes with an AMD Turion 64 X2 dual-core TL-58 processor, a 500GB hard drive, 2GB of RAM and Nvidia's GeForce Go 7600 graphics card. A TV tuner allows users to watch TV on the PC. It also has a webcam and keyboard, mouse and stylus as input devices.
The system, which costs $1,599 (£800) in the US, is coming to the UK, HP revealed. The PC maker will also sell it in Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. The company has plans to extend availability beyond those countries, Finnie said.
Though laptops are all the rage, there is a growing segment of the home market where desktops are re-emerging as home entertainment and information centres, said Tim Bajarin, president of analyst firm Creative Strategies. Microsoft has been emphasising the concept of a digital home, pushing PCs to be information and entertainment centres with its Windows Media Center and Vista OSes.
While it may take time for such PCs to establish themselves, computers like TouchSmart have started showing up in kitchens and dens, Bajarin said.