By Harry McCracken | Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 9:45 pm
A couple of days ago, HP unveiled an array of new PCs. Now it’s announcing a couple of gadgets that aren’t PCs at all–or quite like anything else on the market. It’s calling them DreamScreens. And while I don’t think HP thinks of them this way, they strike me as upscale, next-generation photo frames that do a lot more than display photos.
The DreamScreen 100 (with a 10.2″ display) and DreamScreen 130 (with a 13.3″ one) are designed to sit on a table like a photo frame. Both have direct wireless connections to the Internet, and can display photos shared on the Web (on HP’s Snapfish site), stream music (from Pandora and a service called HP SmartRadio), and show Facebook updates and weather reports. They can also grab music and video from their own 2gB of flash storage, from thumb drives and memory cards, and from PCs on your home network.
All of this reminds me a little of the weird and wonderful Chumby, but Chumby is a platform that third-party developers can write apps for. For now, DreamScreens only run the software that HP supplies for them–but when the company showed me DreamScreens recently, a representative told me that it might allow them to use additional apps in the future.
The DreamScreens are meant for fairly passive consumption of content; you control them with an infrared remote and with capacitive buttons that only light up when you need them, so the gadgets maintain a clean, streamlined look. (Looking at their slick on-screen interfaces, I’ll bet I’m not the only person who silently thought “Gee, it would be cool if these had touch screens.”)
The DreamScreen 100 is $249 and is available now; the 130 is $299 and will be available later in the Fall. We’ll have a review up soon. See photo below; gallery of more images here.
Are you at least provisionally intrigued by the idea?