The HP DreamScreen Not So Dreamy

Last week I saw some coverage of this new HP device called the DreamScreen. And more than a couple of blogs were comparing it to the elusive Apple Tablet. Given my extreme interest in this space, I thought I should get this new DreamScreen in my hands as soon as possible and see if HP had indeed beaten Apple (and us) to the punch in delivering the first high quality tablet computing experience to consumers.

The press: “Want a hint at how the much-anticipated Apple Tablet might be shaping up? Take a look at the HP DreamScreen,” said one of those blogs, adding “this certainly looks like what we’re expecting from the Apple Tablet.” Another site: “Hewlett Packard has beaten Apple to the punch in coming up with a beautiful tablet-like computer.” Engadget called it “something special.”

The reality: I can’t repeat here what I wrote on Twitter because of the sensitive nature of the TechCrunch audience, but I will say this. The HP DreamScreen is possibly the biggest piece of crap to ever grace my desk. Which is saying something.

To be fair to HP, they didn’t really market it as much more than a glorified digital picture frame, the press just got out of hand. But even that’s too much. The device costs $250. It lacks a touchscreen. It lacks a browser. It lacks a battery. And it has the annoying habit of running a very loud demo video every few minutes – the only way to make it stop is to unplug it. Which is very effective, since it lacks a battery (not a good idea when you market yourself as a digital clock). And HP did nothing to stop rabid bloggers and journalists from heralding the device as some sort of Apple killer. I can’t help but wonder if any of these guys actually tried the device.

Wifi setup took ten minutes. I never got Pandora to work. I refused to even try with Facebook, because my password is long and, as you’ll see if you watch to the very end of the video below, I just don’t have an entire afternoon free to type it in. It’s also much thicker than those sexy photos on the HP site make it look.

Text input makes me think that HP was actually aiming for the Macbook Wheel as a comparison point.

I want my money back.

p.s. – I obviously have a huge conflict of interest here. So try it out yourself. But try it in a store where you don’t have to buy it, because you are going to be seriously unhappy with this device.