HP Announces the DreamScreen Web-Connected Screen

HP Announces the DreamScreen Web-Connected Screen

Two days ago, HP let loose with a blitzkrieg of new products, including new laptops, netbooks, and even a new all-in-one desktop PC. The company, however, didn't use up all of its ammunition, as it waited two more days--until today--to launch its final salvo of new product announcements for the fall. And considering that today's product announcement represents a brand-new product category for HP, it makes sense that HP would put a little bit of time between its other announcements and this one, so that this new product wouldn't get lost in the shuffle.

Today's product announcement is about the new HP DreamScreen 100 and HP DreamScreen 130 "web-connected screens." If you haven't heard of a web-connected screen before, it's because it a relatively new category, with few other similar devices out there--you could also call the DreamScreen an "internet screen." The DreamScreen is stand-alone device meant for watching and listening to streaming media from your home PCs and from Web-based sources. While the device might share some similarities with the intended functionality of inexpensive nettop PCs, the DreamScreen is not a full-fledged computer--for instance, it lacks a keyboard.

 

The device's underlying operating system is an embedded version of Linux, but you'll never see any signs of the OS in action. Instead, a stylish and easy to navigate graphical user-interface is what users interact with using either the bundled remote control or the touch-sensitive controls located on the device's bottom bezel. Unlike the new $249.99 Archos 5 "internet media tablet," the DreamScreen does not have a touch-screen. Also unlike the battery-powered Archos 5, the DreamScreen requires an external power connection and is not meant to be portable; the device is designed to be either wall mounted or placed in areas in the home where you might not traditionally put a PC, such as on a nightstand or kitchen counter.

While the Archos 5 has a 4.8-inch 800x600 display, the HP DreamScreen comes in a 10.2-inch version (the DreamScreen 100) and a 13.3-inch version (the DreamScreen 300). The DreamScreen's 800x480 display (on both versions), however, is a slightly lower screen resolution than that of the Archos 5.

 

The DreamScreen comes with apps that let you view photos and slideshows, listen to music, and watch videos. Music and photos can be stored on another system and streamed to the DreamScreen for viewing. Videos cannot be streamed to the device, however, and must be stored either in the device's memory, on a memory card, or USB flash drive (music and photos can also be stored in the device's memory or on removable media). You can also drag-and-drop media files from your PC to the device (wired or wirelessly) using an application that get installed onto your PC. The DreamScreen also includes apps for accessing Snapfish, Facebook, Pandora, and HP Smart Radio, as well as world clock, alarm, weather, and calendar apps as well. HP states that there will also be an app store from where you can download and install additional apps.

        

The DreamScreen has 2GB of onboard flash memory--of which 1.5GB are available for storing media. For streaming media and internet access, the DreamScreen includes a 10/100Mbps Ethernet port and an 802.11b/g wireless network interface. The device also includes support for CompactFlash, SDHC, Memory Stick Pro, and xD Picture cards; it also has a full-sized USB 2.0 port and a mini-USB port. The DreamScreen includes what HP refers to as "built-in high-fidelity speakers," and a headphone-out jack. Supported media formats include:

  • Video File Formats: MPEG 1, 2, 4, H.264
  • Photo File Formats: JPEG, PNG, BMP
  • Audio File Formats: MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV
The 10.2-inch DreamScreen 100 sells for $249 and is available starting today from online sources such as HP, BestBuy, and Amazon. The DreamScreen 100 will be more widely available, including at Best Buy retail outlets, starting October 11. The 13.3-inch DreamScreen 300 will become available sometime later this fall and will sell for $299.
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It's a very intriguing device. I think that I'll probably hold out for a Net/Notebook though. I can see that it will be perfect for some people out there, but I prefer having a keyboard and more control over what it does.

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That seems like it would make a nice interface panel with a home automation system. I'd like to get a few of these and mount them in my walls.

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