HP Inc has unveiled an upgraded version of its innovative Sprout PC targeting business users and the education market with a blend of computer, scanner and projector designed for creative purposes and new applications.
The Sprout Pro is due to be available from March starting in the UK, France, Germany and Spain, and has been upgraded from the consumer model launched in 2014 with Intel's latest Skylake 6th Generation Core i7 processors, DDR4 memory, a Trusted Platform Module security chip and Windows 10 Pro.
The device builds on the capabilities of the original Sprout, but targets the business and education markets where HP Inc saw a lot of interest, the firm said.
"Initially we focused on consumers to reach as wide an audience as possible, but very soon after launch we saw a lot of demand from businesses and schools because of Sprout's unique features, so today we're announcing Sprout Pro as a response to some of the things we heard," said Louis Kim, global head of immersive computing at HP Inc.
The Sprout Pro largely keeps to the same design as the earlier model, providing an all-in-one PC with a clip-on touch mat that attaches in front. A projector and scanner assembly above the Sprout Pro's screen enables the touch mat to function as a second 20-point touchscreen, but also as a scanner for capturing 2D images and 3D objects. It can also be used with a keyboard and mouse, or a pen.
However, the Sprout Pro scanner has been upgraded to match the capabilities of professional-grade standalone scanners, making it capable of professional-level document scanning and optical character recognition, and enabling it to serve as a "digital microscope" capable of magnifying detail.
Other new features include External Display Mixer, which allows output from the Sprout Pro's screen, video from the webcam, or the downward facing camera, or a mix of all three, to be displayed on an external screen, which could be a large-format display for a classroom.
The Sprout Pro now comes with a special version of Microsoft's Skype for Business, modified to take advantage of the device's capabilities, and several software vendors are in the process of adapting their applications, including Adobe with Illustrator and Autodesk with Sketchbook.
HP Inc also has a Sprout SDK for developing apps specifically to take advantage of the capabilities of Sprout Pro, which can be published to a Sprout Marketplace store app that ships with each system.
HP Inc demonstrated some potential uses of Sprout Pro at the launch, including a training scenario where the touch mat display was used to show workers where to place electronic components for assembly. Another involved using the Sprout Pro's capture capabilities paired with a 3D printer.
The HP Sprout Pro will cost from £1,899 in the UK, and HP Inc expects to expand availability across Europe and the Middle East later this year.
As part of its pitch to the education market, HP Inc also launched a number of software packages to support classroom use, as well as a pair of new laptops aimed at education.
The software tools include HP Classroom Manager to help students collaborate and the teacher to broadcast and share information; an admin tool in the shape of HP Touchpoint Manager for Education; and HP Adaptive Learning, based on software from Fishtree, all bundled into HP School Pack 2.0.
The new laptops are the HP x360 310 G2 Education Edition and the HP ProBook11 G2 Education Edition, built with a toughened chassis and long battery life for all-day use, and equipped with HP Inc's classroom software tools.
HP Inc also announced a global partnership with Microsoft aimed at reinventing the classroom, and a programme and online portal for HP Inc channel partners involved in the education market.
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