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Published: June 06, 2017

OMEN banner.jpg

The OMEN by HP lineup of gaming notebooks, desktops and accessories is getting leveled up this summer with a slew of new devices outfitted with all of the latest specs.

But the real surprise comes with the revolutionary re-think of its design, with the growing OMEN family getting a top-to-bottom revamp.

“The gaming industry has evolved and its users have grown a sensitivity to not only to performance and design, but to the total experience of their device,” said James Cha, industrial designer, consumer notebook and desktops at HP. “They want to look at it as a trophy piece when it’s sitting on their desk.”

HP had leveraged existing computers and outfitted them with gaming-ready parts on past iterations. But it’s changed tack to focus exclusively on the needs of gamers, with inspiring design and functional features that set the newest OMEN products apart.

The reinvented OMEN lineup not only brings best-in-class performance to casual, eSports, VR and immersive gaming experiences, they feature improved thermals, distinguished industrial design and user-friendly innovations.

Redesigned OMEN by HP Desktop.Redesigned OMEN by HP Desktop.“You really have got to listen to gamers when designing products for them,” Cha said. “They are sophisticated consumers who look at how the product is built, the story behind it, and how it meets their preferences for everyday use.”

Top priority for HP was designing for OMEN devices that not only looked cool, but run cool.  

"Instead of taking an existing chassis and building around its constraints, we started with the thermals and built a chassis to house them,” said John Ludwig, gaming and VR product manager at HP. “By redesigning the layout of the machine, we can greatly increase the airflow, which has a big impact on performance.”

Take, for example the OMEN by HP Desktop, which features fighter jet-like notched corners that give it an angular, forward-leaning look. Not only does it have a different profile than other gaming towers, those angular chevron cutouts enable more air intake and improve ventilation.

“The goal was for this thing to run nearly-silent and much quieter than our competitors,” he said. “Gamers want to push the limits on their GPU and CPU without the fans running loud.”

The desktop also has a number of other thoughtful features, including a carrying handle that’s designed to let gamers tote their rigs to friends’ houses for competitions and also a cleverly angled set of hidden double doors for easy access to the hard drives.

OMEN Compact Desktop with dock. Photo credit: The VergeOMEN Compact Desktop with dock. Photo credit: The VergeThermals also figure into the recently unveiled consumer version of HP’s virtual reality backpack, the OMEN X Compact Desktop, which until now has been marketed as a backpack and only been available in a developer kit.

It puts a gaming PC on the user’s back and pairs with a VR headset, offering enthusiasts an untethered, more immersive experience by enabling the player free movement away from the snaking cables of a hefty gaming rig or TV.

HP took feedback from users and reduced the pack’s weight and redesigned the straps to be more ergonomic. The newer design maintains airflow between the device and the user’s back to prevent the wearer from getting too warm.

HP also boosted its performance with an Intel Core i7 processor and added a small form-factor docking solution for customers that wanted to use the VR pack as their main PC. The VR pack pairs with an HTC Vive headset and also the HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset, which is sold as a developer’s kit.

OMEN by HP Accelerator connects to a notebook via Thunderbolt 3.OMEN by HP Accelerator connects to a notebook via Thunderbolt 3.New to the lineup is an external GPU dock, OMEN by HP Accelerator, which zeroes in on PC gaming via Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. The accelerator is paired with a (non-gaming) notebook PC for ultimate versatility. It can also accommodate nearly all of the graphics cards on the market today and pairs with any HP laptop or other Thunderbolt 3-certified notebook.

“You get the best of both worlds: An amazingly mobile notebook for everyday tasks, and high-end graphics processing power to play games when you dock,” Ludwig said.

For the revamped OMEN devices, it was important that smallest details weren’t overlooked.

“We wanted to make sure every, single part you see is a curated experience,” Cha said. “All of the internal components, even down to the littlest sockets, are accounted for in terms of. Gamers appreciate that they are buying a machine where everything inside is built for them.” 

For a full rundown of all things OMEN by HP, visit hp.com.OMEN family shot banner.jpg

 

 

    Desktop Computing Gaming Mobile Computing
Published: May 12, 2017

As I am sure that some of you have read, on May 11, a Swiss cyber-security firm, Modzero AG, released a whitepaper highlighting that a keylogger issue – which in this case, is debug code – that is present in Conexant audio drivers on select HP computers.

At HP, customer security is our top priority, so I wanted to give an update on the issue, what we have done, and our best advice to customers.

First and most importantly, there is a fix for our commercial PCs available on HP.com as of today, May 12, with fixes for all consumer PCs scheduled to be available on May 13. In addition, HP has not had, nor will it have, any access to user data as a result of this issue.

When HP learned about this earlier this month, our Cyber Security team immediately investigated the issue, found the root cause and worked on a fix. In addition to being available on HP.com, we are also in the process of getting it published through Microsoft’s Windows Update Service. This is so customers – especially those with PCs not managed by an IT organization – will get the update automatically. For customers whose PCs are managed by their internal IT team, the update is available for deployment through their standard sets of tools.

As Modzero’s report states, there was a keylogger capability in the Conexant HD audio driver package that is preinstalled on some HP PCs. This capability was created by Conexant during the development process to help debug an audio issue. Adding debug code is a normal part of the development process and such code is supposed to be removed and never included in a commercially available product. Unfortunately, in this case, Conexant did not remove the code. We certainly never intended to include this code in shipped products.

The debug code stores keystrokes in a log file that it creates to help developers diagnose an issue. This code is stored in a file locally on the PC, and then it is cleared out each time the user logs off and whenever the PC is rebooted.

Some media coverage suggested that the log files are sent back to HP. These articles are inaccurate – such information is never sent back to HP. Again, HP never intended to include this functionality in a shipped product used by customers. What is most important to know is that there is an immediate commercial fix available with all consumer fixes available by May 13.

This issue effects certain commercial notebooks and desktop systems manufactured since 2015. In addition, a select set of our consumer systems are effected. For more information on the exact systems that need an update to the audio driver, check out our security advisory.

Our best advice to customers is to install the updated driver package. If you are a consumer customer or a business without a dedicated IT team, we recommend using Window Update to keep your PC updated automatically. For customers with a dedicated IT organization, download the Softpak from HP.com and distribute the updated driver package as you would any other update. Given the nature of this issue, our advice is to deploy this update as quickly as possible.

While HP didn’t create the driver, our job is to keep the customer safe even when the issue is with third-party code. We have learned from this situation and will work to with our partners to further verify the debug code is removed from their software before it goes final. That said, we will also continue to work with the security community to learn about these issues if they do come up, and then work to make sure we can get high quality fixes out to customers as quickly as possible, just as we are doing in this case.

For more information, please read the security advisory available here.

 

Published: May 12, 2017

HP_Windows_Mixed_Reality_Headset_Developer_Edition.Web.jpg

The explosion of virtual and augmented reality hardware and software—at a recent check, it’s a market that’s set to grow to $108 billion by 2021—is already changing the face of the video game and entertainment industries.  

But what if it could also change the way healthcare providers interact with their patients, the way educators teach their students and even the way office workers run meetings?

That’s the vision offered by MIcrosoft and HP, who this week unveiled the new HP Windows Mixed Reality Developer Edition Headset, which is available for pre-orders at Microsoft Stores, priced at $329 USD and $449 CAD.  

“Windows Mixed Reality is not just about gaming, but how we will interact with computers in the future,” said John Ludwig, gaming and VR product manager at HP. “From an experience perspective, we’re helping Microsoft put Windows Mixed Reality technology into your everyday life.”

The devkit, which offers tools for the MR/VR/AR software development community, aims to inspire them to build software and applications with immersive capabilities for a broader, more mainstream audience ahead of the planned consumer launch later this year. 

 

Bringing Windows Mixed Reality to the mainstreamMetal_lensdetail web.png

 Before VR can do things like offer virtual travel experiences, facilitate social networking or help people receive mental health services, there’s room for its hardware to evolve.

As it is right now, the headset market is fragmented. There are high-performance devices for tethering with high-end gaming rigs that deliver immersive experiences, such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. There are also lower-end devices, such as Google’s Daydream platform and Samsung’s Gear VR, that are meant to hook up to a smartphone for mobile applications.

But for the average PC user, there’s not much in between, Ludwig said.

“What’s innovative about Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality platform is that it spans both worlds, from accessory-driven, mobile applications all the way up to hardcore gaming,” he said.

Even when creating a device for software developers, HP’s designers set out to make a headset that’s both versatile and hones in on improving the user experience, according to Ludwig.

  

Metal_frontdetail web.pngGearing up for consumer launch

The developer kit precedes the eventual HP consumer hardware, which is expected to roll out later this year. It costs about half of what’s currently offered in the market for consumers and takes advantage of some key innovations that make it more appealing to a wider audience than ever before.

Today’s higher-end devices are expensive—running at about $500 for a single headset—and require pairing with a gaming or other high-performance PC with beefy graphics processing. They also require a lot of complex setup, including a dedicated space to install sensors around a room so that the player’s movements can be tracked with accuracy.

For example, to make setup easier, the device taps a pair of front-facing cameras that scan the space around the player to track movement.Metal_leftfacingcable web.png

 It also ups the game on visuals, with a resolution boost to 1,440 x 1,440 pixels per eye. That’s an improvement from the existing standard of 1,280 x 1,080 per eye in most headsets today. It also features a 2-in-1 cable that pairs HDMI 1.4 and USB 3.0 together for easier, plug-and-play setup with no additional software to install and compatibility with whatever computing device the consumer already has – even an ultrabook. 

“We want to expand the market and spur developers to get started making great content and novel applications for today’s users and potential users,” Ludwig said. “Microsoft has enabled us to move the Windows Mixed Reality headset into a much more consumer-friendly place.”

The HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset Developer Edition is available for pre-orders at Microsoft Stores for U.S. and Canada, and on HP.com.

Published: April 25, 2017

HP's updated lineup of fourth-generation ZBook Mobile Workstations.HP's updated lineup of fourth-generation ZBook Mobile Workstations. While most people still think about VR as being about the hardware – like Samsung Gear VR or Oculus – it’s the content that will really matter in the long run.

That means that game designers, animators, filmmakers and graphics professionals need to be ready with powerful tools in their back pocket to meet what’s projected to be a $41 billion market for global VR content creation.

HP, the leader in the fast-growing professional workstation market, recognizes the unique needs of digital creators who rely on powerful mobile workstations to support today’s graphically intense content creation projects.  

HP's 4th-gen ZBook 17HP's 4th-gen ZBook 17At NAB Show this week during the launch of HP’s 4th generation ZBook Mobile Workstations family, HP unleashed its first Virtual Reality (VR)-ready mobile workstation: the HP ZBook 17, which aims to help designers meet rapidly growing demand for VR content.

Last year, the number of global downloads of VR games and apps from Google Play and the App Stores totaled 226 million, representing a 276 percent year-over-year explosion from 2015, according to recent Sensor Tower Store Intelligence data. In the first quarter of 2017 alone, mobile VR software downloads across both platforms totaled more than 85 million worldwide, a 205 percent year-over-year increase.  

A scene from "Henry," by Oculus Story Studio, one of first original characters entirely designed for VR viewing.A scene from "Henry," by Oculus Story Studio, one of first original characters entirely designed for VR viewing.The entertainment industry has been warming up to VR lately, too. This year’s Tribeca Film Festival was reportedly set to include VR projects tied to director Kathryn Bigelow, musicians John Legend and Pharrell Williams and producer Megan Ellison. And last year, an Oculus VR film called “Henry” managed to take home an Emmy.

For its part, HP is delivering the tools to help digital designers pursue that opportunity – now. Creators can configure the ZBook 17 with optimal horsepower, select one of two NVDIA graphics cards (the P4000 or P5000) and be assured of an ultra-smooth 90 FPS (frames per second) experience.

Beyond its VR capabilities, the ZBook 17 shares numerous important innovations found in the other 4th generation mobile workstations, including: HP ZBook 14u and 15u models; HP ZBook 15; and the top-of-the-line HP ZBook Studio.

For example, because client security continues to (or should) be a major concern for digital creators everywhere, HP re-invented its 4th generation lineup to be the industry’s most secure and manageable workstations. Each workstation offers unique security features, such as: HP Sure Start Gen3, the industry’s first-self healing PC BIOS with comprehensive encryption, strong authentication, malware protection, data protection, identity assurance and threat detection and response.

ZBook Mobile Workstations also come preloaded with HP Remote Graphics Software for remote collaboration HP Performance Advisor for optimal performance and HP Velocity for reliable and fast network performance.

 With HP taking the lead, workstations have undergone a complete change and emerged as tools that many industries use to produce mind-blowing visual content.

Best of NAB award.jpgThe entertainment industry is at the forefront of this trend, and HP workstations have played a central role in creating some of the most magical scenes in memorable Hollywood blockbusters, such as, "Hugo,” “Shrek,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” Spider-Man 3” and all “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies.

This year at NAB, the HP ZBook 17 was awarded the "Best of NAB" by Videomaker magazine. 

To learn more about HP ZBook Mobile Workstations, visit HP's website. The NAB show continues through April 27th in Las Vegas. 

 

Published: April 19, 2017

Android Jones' installation inside the HP Antarctic dome.Android Jones' installation inside the HP Antarctic dome.

From rendering award-winning animated films to propelling cutting-edge research on the International Space Station, HP’s lineup of Workstations are known for powering the most innovative—and compute-intensivetypes of work.

At the Coachella Music and Art Festival this week, HP can add immersive art installations to the long list of Workstation-powered creativity.

HP partnered with visual artists Android Jones and Eric Paré at Coachella, where they’ve installed mind-blowing, immersive installations for festival-goers to experience at the HP Antarctic dome and the HP Lounge.

At the heart of both of the art experiences are HP Workstations, which brought powerful technology to the artists’ fingertips.

 

Painting with light

Photographer Eric Paré tapped HP Workstations to create an interactive “light painting” installation called “Kinetic Art.”

Light painting in the "Kinetic Art" installation at the HP Lounge.Light painting in the "Kinetic Art" installation at the HP Lounge.His technique involves using dozens of high-speed cameras to capture moving light trails against a dark background. The composite images, taken in 120 degrees around his subject, creates dynamic shapes in an explosion of color for a one-of-a-kind photo.

As the cameras snap in succession, participants can use the motion of their bodies to leave a trail of light. The resulting few seconds of video can be rendered out into a still image or shared as an animated gif on social media.

Capturing each image required a custom rig made up of some 28 cameras and two HP Workstations, which Paré said “made the whole experience super-smooth.”

“No matter how optimized is our software, there's a lot of processing going on here,” he said. “HP gave us the best performance we've ever had so far.”

 

Enter the Antarctic

The centerpiece of HP’s Coachella experience is housed inside 60-foot tall geodesic dome, dubbed the “Antarctic,” that brings digital artist Android Jones’ vision to life.

Festival-goers can lounge on bean bag chairs inside the dome and watch an 8-minute show that combines animated digital art and music in a sequence that’s right out of Jones’ imagination.2017-04-19_15-17-10.jpg

He describes it as a journey of colorful, shifting, organic shapes that starts with molecular imagery that slowly builds on itself to form more complex objects, including a massive eyeball. The second half of the piece is a visual trip where the viewer is “flying through this interdimensional kaleidoscope and merry-go-rounds of archetypes, shapes and faces,” according to Jones, who describes himself as an “electro-mineralist.”

Creating this 360-degree experience inside the domethe largest installation of this type for Jonestook a massive amount of computing power to render the images projected onto the dome, which covered some 11,000 square feet.

Jones estimates each image had to be about 8,000 by 15,000 pixels in size in order to project them on the interior of the dome at 60 frames per second, a feat he described as the “highest output we have worked with.”

Scene from the Antarctic dome.Scene from the Antarctic dome.“We had to create huge map images to render out the frames and create the full-dome, immersive experience,” Jones said. “We needed to be working at the highest level of computation and we needed some really powerful workstations to render it within the timeline. That was made possible by the HP machines.”

In a separate installation inside the HP Lounge, Jones tapped HP’s OMEN gaming computers to create a more intimate experience with his art. In this installation, festival-goers could don VR headsets to manipulate and interact with a shorter version of what was playing on a loop in the Antarctic dome.

Jones and his tech team rendered art using the latest NVDIA graphics processors cranking at astonishing speedssome 11 teraflops, or about 11 trillion calculations per secondto generate a VR experience that can trick the human brain into thinking computer-generated imagery is real.

Jones, who’s toured with music festivals for more than a decade, said that if his audience has one thing in common, it’s that “people want to get their minds blown and they want to see something they’ve never seen before,” he said. “These tools enable a whole new level and dimension of creative possibilities.”

Weekend two of Coachella continues through April 23. For exclusive content, follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #HPCoachella and @HP.