It has a touchscreen all-in-one monitor running Windows 8, but that's about where the familiar part of the new Sprout by HP ends.
Where your keyboard should go, HP has placed a capacitive touch mat. Arching up and over the 23-inch HD screen is the Sprout Illuminator, a projector, camera, depth sensor and scanner. The Illuminator projects and 1,024 x 768-pixel display onto the touch mat, turning your desk into a second screen or virtual keyboard.
HP's intention was to bring a more "immersive, natural" interface to computing, though users used to manipulating a mouse might find the experience rather unnatural at first.
As CNET's Scott Stein reported in his hands-on with the so-called "Blended Reality" system, when he put his hands on the touch mat and started interacting with the projected images, "it felt a little odd at first, rather like one of those interactive science museum exhibits, or those mall novelties where you step on bubbles projected from the ceiling. The immediacy of the touch response, and the crisp brightness of the projector, even in a regularly lit office, set it apart though." (See Stein's extensive review of the experience on CNET.)
The computer does come with a wireless keyboard, for the old fashioned user.
The Illuminator also acts as a 3D scanner. Place an object on the work surface, tap an icon, and it will capture and render it onscreen. It also scans documents and other flat objects.
This is one of two moves into 3D that HP announced this week. The company also revealed its HP Multi Jet Fusion, the other product in the Blended Reality Ecosystem, which it calls a faster, more accurate and more economical 3D printer. It will be available in wide release beginning in 2016.
Sprout is available for preorder now on HP's website, and will be on sale Nov. 9 for $1,899.