Netly: The Third Screen

Archive for the ‘DreamScreen’ Category

NYT’s David Pogue hates it. So does TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington, who does the journalistic thing and discloses that he’s been working on his own tablet computer, so caveat etc.

But here’s the thing: They’re bashing this device on the grounds that it’s a terrible tablet computer. Well, that’s because it’s not a tablet computer. As I wrote earlier, it’s a digital picture frame on steroids. A new type of gadget. And as such, it’s still a pretty cool device.

-1The good folks at HP were kind enough to send me a DreamScreen, which arrived this morning. Though I’ve only had a few hours to play with it, a few observations:

1. This is not a tablet computer. In fact, it is pretty much what it looks like—a digital picture frame on steroids. It’s meant to be propped up on a desk or night table, not held.

2. It is not a touchscreen device. You navigate via various apps with a remote. The remote is also used to input text, when called for, from an on-screen QWERTY keyboard.

3. That said, it is a computer. Once connected to your WiFi network, you can update its OS, which means it can evolve. HP plans to offer a range of apps to augment the core apps (music, video, weather, time, calendar, Pandora, Facebook and so on) that ship on the machine. Someone mentioned that the DreamScreen is like the Chumby in that regard, and the analogy is apt. UPDATE: A spokesman said that “Company executives are in the midst of considering whether it makes sense to create an app store/open the platform to third-party developers.” FWIW, I think it makes sense.

4. Facebook, and other Internet service apps, are stripped down. In the FB app, for instance, you can only do three things: Status Updates, Event invitations and photos. Of those, photo browsing is really the only thing you’d most want to do on the DreamScreen. In fact, this device, which was initially conceived of as a digital picture frame, that’s no surprise. Still, the app ought to allow me to initiate a Facebook “slide show mode” so I don’t have to manually click through images.

5. Navigation among apps is slow, but not unbearably so. Whenever you go to the Home screen, the DS needs some time to process that request. But it makes me think that the underlying processors are pretty wimpy and this is very much a version 1 type of gadget.

6. There’s probably a decent-sized pool of people who will use this device, especially as it evolves. The DS is small enough to fit on your night table, and it really seems like it wants to be there. In fact, if I were HP, I’d be pushing these devices to the big hotel chains, where they’d function splendidly as home-away-from-home personal entertainment centers.

dream-11Dean Takahashi at VentureBeat has the scoop on HP’s just-launched DreamScreen, a small, Net-connected tablet that runs a stripped down OS and limited number of apps.

I saw the prototype for this device at the beginning of the summer, while visiting HP’s labs down in Cupertino. It started life as a digital picture frame, which is apparent when you see and use it. As it evolved, the device took on some of the characteristics of HP’s popular TouchSmart desktop computer, which attempts to meld a computer with a TV. While the current DreamScreen doesn’t do TV, it runs a variety of apps that sidescroll across the screen, a la the TouchSmart, for such utilities as Weather, Photos, Music, Movies, Facebook and so on. The version I saw did not have a Web browser, and I don’t believe these first models do either.

HP said at the time that the plan was to open up the apps platform to third-party developers, which is a smart move. The DreamScreen 100, which can be ordered online now, has a 10.1-inch (diagonal) screen and sells for $249. This is the cloest thing yet to what the great e-reader era is aiming for, but there’s still a long way to go. Among other things, the device is fine for in-home use, but you wouldn’t take it on the train or to work, I think. Still, well done HP. This is a promising start and shows that the e-reader category can indeed be sexy.



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