Event Coverage

HP PPS Innovation Day: Sprout PC, blended reality and other notebook and printer innovations showcased

By Ian Chee & Koh Wanzi - 9 Jun 2015

HP PPS Innovation Day: Sprout PC, blended reality and other notebook and printer innovations showcased

HP showcased a range of desktop, notebook, and print solutions for both enterprise and consumer use.

The buzzword at HP's Printing and Personal Systems Innovation Day for Asia Pacific and Japan was innovation. The company took the opportunity to affirm its commitment to continued innovation and its customers with a comprehensive showcase of products in the desktop, notebook and printer segments. Displaying a painstaking attention to detail, HP took us through its range of 2015 products that are designed to deliver real function and usability improvements to HP customers.

HP Sprout

First on the list was the HP Sprout, a fairly revolutionary dual-screen, gesture-based desktop computer. We already had an opportunity to checkout a hands-on demonstration of the Sprout at CES 2015, which you can view below:

HP treated us to another hands-on preview today, with a special focus on how the Sprout can make the jobs of designers and artists infinitely easier. Furthermore, the Sprout is so intuitive and simple to use that even a less technically inclined person will be able to exercise their creative flair on Sprout. 

Sprout owes its capabilities to HP Illuminator and the HP Touch Mat, a 20-inch, 20-point touch-enabled mat that sits where your keyboard would normally be. HP Illuminator is comprises a HP DLP projector, a 14.6MP HP high-resolution camera, and an Intel RealSense 3D Camera, the latter of which enables its almost wondrous capture of 2D and 3D objects.

 The HP Sprout is a godsend for designers and artists, enabling them to interact with their creations in more tangible and intuitive ways.

HP has coined something called blended reality, which involves breaking down barriers between the physical and digital worlds. It's easy to see how this would apply to the Sprout, which allows you to scan 3D objects and interact with digital versions of the same objects by simply scanning them on the HP Touch Mat.

To scan an object, simply place it on the HP Touch Mat and hit scan.

In less than 10 seconds, the objects show up on the 23-inch 1,920 x 1,080 LCD display and on the HP Touch Mat. You can move the objects around on the mat, rotate them, and even pinch to enlarge or shrink them. When we tried it out, the whole experience felt pleasantly responsive and far more natural than your standard keyboard and mouse combo. 

The scan is completed in less than 10 seconds, after which the objects appear on the primary display and the Touch Mat.

Furthermore, the Sprout dispenses with the need for complex photo editing software. For instance, in order to remove a shadow from an image, you can simply mark the portion of the image you want to keep with a blue stroke on the Touch Mat and the shadow with a red line. The software then does the rest, effectively removing the entirety of the shadow around the capsicum in a split second. 

Of course, this probably works best when there are clear outlines and color demarcations, but it certainly serves its purpose in simplifying what would have been a far more time-consuming process.

The HP Sprout includes editing capabilities that allow you to easily remove things like shadows from images.

The Sprout also offers a one-click method to grab screenshots from the web. These images can then be combined with the digitized versions of real 3D objects to create new creative pieces.

By allowing users to easily combine digital versions of 3D objects with images from the web, the Sprout empowers them with new methods and avenues to get creative.

To cap things off, the Sprout supports apps like Virtual DJ, which projects virtual turntables on the Touch Mat to allow you to be your own DJ. Although the current selection of apps is still fairly limited, HP has made the SDK for the Sprout readily available, which means developers will be able to build dedicated apps for the desktop. 

The Sprout supports apps like Virtual DJ, which projects virtual turntables onto the Touch Mat for a go at mixing your own tunes.

 

2-in-1 hybrids and notebooks

HP also showcased its Pavilion x360 laptop, which features dual-array microphones optimized for Cortana (yes, it's coming to PCs too). The 360° hinge allows it to easily transition from notebook to tablet to tent and stand modes, providing users with great flexibility. The bottom-facing speakers are also ideally situated to provide more immersive sound when the notebook is placed in stand mode, where the keyboard has been bent all the way around and now acts as a stand. 

It's also available in a variety of bright colors, which HP says its reflective of market surveys which indicate that consumers desire a more vibrant selection of colors for their devices. Interestingly enough, HP pointed out that the brighter shades were more popular among older consumers while the younger crowd went for more staid and plain colors.

The Pavilion x360 comes in a wide array of colors to suit customers' demands.

Next up, the company demonstrated the capabilities of its Duet stylus when paired with a HP Pro Slate tablet. Unlike other stylus pens on the market which rely on capacitative contact or Bluetooth pairing, the Duet uses ultrasonic technology to communicate with the Pro Slate. The tablet has four microphones on its four corners that work with the ultrasonic emitters on the pen to detect its position. 

This enables the pen to be detected when it's not directly touching or even near the touch screen. The Duet also comes with a reversible pen nib with real ink, so users will be able to write on a actual paper and a digital pad at the same time. 

When paired with a HP Pro Slate 8, the HP Duet pen allows you to write simultaneously on a real notepad and the notepad app.

The Duet is also pressure-sensitive, and strokes become thicker or lighter according to the amount of pressure you apply.

The Duet pen uses ultrasonic emitters to talk to the Pro Slate tablets.

In addition, there was the Elite x2 1011 2-in-1 hybrid device and the EliteBook 1020 Folio Special Edition (SE), the lightest commercial notebook on the market so far. Having already unveiled the devices earlier this year, HP cut to the chase by homing in key features, like the use of the same 1.5mm key travel keyboard on both devices (even though the Elite x2 is a hybrid device instead of a full-fledged notebook). According to HP, this serves to ensure that the user experience is not compromised in any way when the device is used as a notebook.

It also highlighted the Magnesium-Lithium alloy construction of the EliteBook 1020 Folio SE, which helped keep its weight down to a paltry 1kg, quite an impressive feat for a fully featured commercial notebook.

The Elite x2 uses the same keyboard as that on the EliteBook Folio 1020 SE.

And in keeping with the focus on useability and benefits to the end user, HP showed how easy it was to connect the Elite x2 hybrid to a larger display via its wireless dock. The connection is based on WiGig technology, which enables high-bandwidth communications within an optimal range of approximately 1.2m.

The HP Wireless Dock supports the 802.11ad wireless standard for high-bandwidth communication between devices over short distances.

 

Printers

Finally, HP walked us through the key features of its printers. The HP DeskJet 3630 all-in-one printer was just launched today, featuring a unique design that shuns the traditional boxy outlines of conventional printers in favor of a more bowl-like design with softer contours. According to HP, this is intended to convey the impression of a hand-crafted product with a human touch, as opposed to a more clinical machined approach. 

In addition, it sports bright, colored accents around its rim and print tray to draw users' eyes towards key touch areas where they can interact with the printer. It is available in a range of vibrant colors, including blue, green and orange. 

It is available at just US$64, putting it within reach of a wide audience.

The HP DeskJet 3630 AIO printer features colored accents that draw the user's attention to key touch areas where they can interact with the printer.

As part of HP's 2015 LaserJet printer lineup, the HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M277dw uses HP's new JetIntelligence technology that enables much faster startup times, up to 53 percent less energy consumed, and 33 percent more prints per cartridge. The new HP LaserJets are also 40 percent smaller than previous-generation printers, a huge boon to modern offices that are often quite pressed for space.

On the design front, HP has gone with a light and subtle color scheme to fit into the current office furniture and decor trends which tend to favor lighter-colored settings. The off-white and gray color scheme also means that dust will be less apparent when it settles. These printers are intended to be used for years at a time, so this will help them look spotless for longer.

And compared to other printers that have their touch panels permanently facing upwards, the touch screen panel can be tilted freely for more convenient use when a user is seated. Its also features a slide interface that ties in more seamlessly with what users are used to on their smartphones, thus enabling a more pleasant user experience overall.

 HP has managed to make its current generation of printers up to 40 percent smaller than their predecessors, a huge boon to space-constrained workplaces.

Furthermore, the scan glass features an infinity design that ensures users can easily slide documents on and off the scanner.

The edgeless design of the scan glass allows documents to be slid off with ease.

While most of what HP showcased isn't exactly new to the market, the event served to recap its 2015 products. It also helped offer new perspective to the year's products and the various new features by framing them in terms of the tangible benefit to the end user. And to cap it all off, HP has managed to boost utility while packaging its products in designs that clearly convey an exacting attention to form and detail.