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HP DreamScreen offers web access without a PC

Display has wireless connection but no browser

HP has unveiled the DreamScreen - a display that features a built-in wireless connection so it can display content from the web without needing to be hooked up to a PC.

"What we're really trying to do is bring a simple, user-intuitive device that's always on, always connected to the internet, to bring web applications that don't require PCs," said Ameer Karim, director of worldwide marketing with HP's futures and innovations group.

The screens, which can also be hooked up to a PC to play music or video stored on the computer in a different room or to display photos like a digital picture frame, uses a remote control and a touch panel for input.

It can also be used as an alarm clock, to check the weather or to play any of about 15,000 global radio stations, HP said.

The DreamScreens don't come with a web browser, however, which limits the web content that can be viewed. Instead, HP worked with internet companies and content providers to develop interfaces to display their content. The initial partners are Facebook, US music site Pandora and the photo site Snapfish. More applications may be added in the future, Karim said.

The company stressed that the devices are supposed to complement PCs, not be a substitute for them. Starting a PC just to check something on the web is time-consuming, Karim noted. The DreamScreens can be hung on a wall or put on a table in living rooms or kitchens, and look more elegant than most PCs, according to Karim.

"Internally, we've been calling it 'bite-sized computing.' It's snippets of the stuff you'd normally get on a computer, but we don't really want to bring productivity here," he said.

The products come in 10.2 and 13.3in sizes, priced at $249 (£151) and $299 (£181), respectively. They will be available in the US in October, although HP didn't say when the screens would be launched in the UK.

The device may support TV viewing in the future, Karim said. "It is very likely you will see these devices do all sorts of things like access content on a DVR or a set-top box." It may also pull video content from TV stations in the future.

HP's smart screen uses the Linux OS and comes with 2GB of internal storage so that photos, music and movies can be stored locally. It has a USB port and a memory card reader, from which digital content can be played.

It supports multiple MPEG video formats; the JPEG, PNG and bitmap (BMP) photo file formats; and MP3, WMA, AAC and WAV audio formats. HP didn't comment about the processor inside the product.

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See also: HP launches thin, light dual-core business laptop


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