HP Dreamscreen 400 - A Dream Come True for Some

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Everyone once in a while, a company will decide to come up with new products that are catered for the less tech savvy. The new HP Dreamscreen 400 is one such innovation that is aimed at the masses that aren't yet familiar with computers or the internet. HP has designed it to be easily accessible to people with tight budgets.

 

The hinge for the very elegant stand setup

The hinge for the very elegant stand setup

 

 

 

Features, Design and Build Quality

The HP Dreamscreen 400 is an all-in-one PC, although HP prefers not to call it a PC. It comes with a decently sized 18.5-inch touchscreen display that supports a resolution of 1366x768. The screen, along with the PC hardware, fits into a single piece of molded plastic. It’s very sturdy and the simple stand setup is very elegantly designed. Most of the screen and volume controls for the Dreamscreen 400 are positioned on the right side of the screen, along with an activity indicator for the hard drive.

The all new HP Dreamscreen 400

The all new HP Dreamscreen 400

 

There are plenty of connectivity options – most of them are found on the left side of the screen. There are two USB ports along with a memory card reader which reads SD/MMC and Sony MemoryStick cards. There are two more USB ports at the back of the Dreamscreen, next to the LAN and audio ports. WiFi support and a DVD drive are also present. On the inside, there is a 250 GB hard drive which can be used to store data that you download from the web or from other external sources. Although the Dreamscreen is designed to be a good content delivery system, it can also be used as a daily computer to some extent.

External drives can be connected to the Dreamscreen as well

The Dreamscreen runs a heavily modified Linux distribution, but it’s not easy to tell. You only see a flash of it when you shutdown the PC. Users can choose the keyboard themselves, but a physical keyboard and mouse are also provided. These are very basic models found on entry-level HP PCs – they don’t go well with the look of the Dreamscreen. The on-screen keyboard has support for various layouts – QWERTY and ABCDEF, as well as a Hindi keyboard. The interface is also available in Hindi, across almost all applications. You can enable this during the login process. Not all the applications are ported to Hindi though.
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Usability
Everything about the Dreamscreen has been designed to be easy to use. Everything from assembling the hardware, to the setting up of the user accounts has been simplified as much as possible. Users can create new accounts by clicking on one of the empty slots shown on the login page. There’s even a tour feature which has video tutorials on how to setup the Dreamscreen and use all of its features. The Dreamscreen works with with a TATA Photon 3G dongle and also Airtel wired broadband, where most of its content is downloaded. You can also use your LAN or WiFi based internet connection.

The Ethernet port at the rear of the Dreamscreen

The Dreamscreen may not let you install any apps, but it has a ton of features. HP has tied up with a number of content and service providers to bring about this level of simple access. You can do everything from booking tickets, to paying your bills to even visiting temples virtually using the Live Darshan feature. Educational content is also available, but like many of these features, one needs to subscribe for them. Horoscopes are also available as a feature of the Dreamscreen.

Live Darshan of shrines and temples is made possible 

Those used to using a traditional Windows or Linux PC will find a few things odd. It’s not built as a desktop PC, so there isn’t any alt-tabbing possible using keyboard. The OS does remember recently run software. For example, starting a second Spreadsheet application will lead to a prompt asking you whether you want to create a new document or use the existing open file.

The media player is pretty simple too. HP has also bundled a lot of content on the Dreamscreen. For example, there are over ten recent popular Bollywood movies which came bundled with the PC. Video quality of the movies is also top notch.

Performance
The Dreamscreen boots up from a complete power off state to the login screen in under 45 seconds, which isn’t as quick we’d like. The screen quality is decent – contrast is good, colour rendition natural and the viewing angles usable. The OS performs well for the most part, but performance does take a hit while browsing through a large photo gallery.

Although a resistive type, the screen is surprisingly accurate and the interface works in sync with it. The speakers aren’t very loud, but they’re sufficient for a couple of people sitting around the desktop. Music can also be played in the background while you read or browse the web.

Verdict
The HP Dreamscreen 400 sells for Rs. 19,999, which for the hardware itself is a very good deal. Remember that the Dreamscreen with its non-PC-like design, can be used as a photo frame, a movie player, or just a browsing PC. It’s not designed for the computer literate, but more for the mainstream Indian household, who have might have no prior knowledge of PCs. There are those who are somewhat fearful of using PCs, and need something that is extremely simply to use. There are no taskbars, no Start buttons and anything that might end up confusing the user. Considering what it’s made for, the HP Dreamscreen 400 hits the bullseye.


Published Date: Jan 21, 2011 11:37 am | Updated Date: Jan 21, 2011 11:37 am