I think HP may be on to something with its TouchSmart PC. The new TouchSmarts, which are being unveiled today, are technically computers, complete with mouse and keyboard. (For the specs, check out Andrew Nusca's post.)
But the heart of the device is the screen, specifically a touch screen display that's populated with apps that include Netflix and Hulu - and that makes it feel a little less like a computer and more like a TV set.
Stream a Netflix movie or a Hulu sitcom over this screen and suddenly it's easy to see how close we are to a new age of television, a Web-powered age of television. For years, the PC industry has been talking about bringing the computer into the living room but has never really been able to pull it off.
I'm not saying the TouchSmart is a winner for replacing 50-inch plasma in the living room. But I can see that, through the use of apps, widgets or whatever else we call them, there's a new experience on the horizon.
The company also highlights the PC as a "digital sign," the type of screen that could find a home as an interactive touchscreen display - maybe something at the airport that offers travelers information on hotels, car rentals or restaurants or an interactive directory at the shopping mall that not only gives users a route to to the store inside the mall but also an opportunity to learn more about what the store is selling.
In the meantime, I can see this sort of device finding a home in dorm rooms, kitchens and home offices. At $899 and $1,049 for the 20-inch and 23-inch models, respectively, you get both a TV and a PC - which makes it more of a value add.
In the video below, HP's Mindy Fournier offers a demo of some of the features for the TouchSmarts.