First, the basics. HP's new TouchSmart consumer and business PCs come with a 60-degree reclining display. These touchscreen desktop PCs have screens that recline to almost flat. The idea is that a flat surface---much like a tablet---will make collaboration easier and make the PC more comfortable.
HP is also touting "natural front-desk interaction where eye contact is important" and an "intuitive touch experience." In other words, HP's latest PCs will work well for the retail, hospitality and healthcare industries. The TouchSmart Consumer PC and TouchSmart 9300 Elite Business PC feature 23-inch screens. The PCs will come with HP's TouchSmart software and "touch-optimized" applications.
The larger question goes beyond these PCs that start at $899.99. Are we seeing a shift in the desktop continuum? A few thoughts:
- Touchscreen and natural user interfaces are going to become hybrids with the mouse and keyboard in short term. Long term, there could be some interface replacing going on.
- It's unclear how the mainstream consumer will adopt these technologies. Will folks want touchscreen desktops or just buy laptops and tablets?
- Is there an opening for Microsoft's Surface PC as these desktop designs are tweaked? I'd argue that Surface PC prices are going to fall to the point where they can be suitable desktops/coffee tables.
Overall, HP's TouchSmart PCs are probably just the beginning move in an evolution to hybrid tablets/PCs.