In most homes, the kitchen is the center of family organization, the place where people mark calendars with choir practices, office parties and first dates, and post notes and family photos on cork boards and refrigerator doors.
For many years, the computer industry has tried to build a “kitchen computer” or “kitchen software” for regular computers, to replace the refrigerator door and the wall calendar as the planning and notification centers for the household. All of these attempts have failed.
Now, Hewlett-Packard Co. is trying again. This week, I tested the HP TouchSmart PC, a unique computer that H-P hopes your family will use in your kitchen or family room to get organized — digitally. This computer, due out Jan. 30, is an expensive — $1,799 — machine with an unusual design. It’s meant to be used like a walk-up kiosk, perched on a kitchen counter, with users selecting functions by tapping large icons on a touch-sensitive screen.
She concludes that although it has some great features, it’s still too bulky and pricey.
Before the apparent demise of Commoca, I thought this touch-screen phone had a great shot at being the “PC in the kitchen.” Not many people now have wireless networks in their homes and laptops in the kitchen.
Eventually this “PC in the kitchen” will be perfected (perhaps by Apple). It will probably be some flat panel combination of a tablet PC and kiosk/touch screen that enables easy navigation without a keyboard and manual handwriting (as on a calendar or notes). The keyboard is a problemmatic aspect of such a device (voice input would be a good option).
Regardless of what precise features it eventually has this device will come. The independent variable is price. If such a device is made affordable (under $1K) it will gain usage. If expensive it will be a niche novelty for gearheads.