If you have a child, you probably at some point take the tyke to work. Y’know, whether it’s to show off your offspring – or explain what you do for a living. When you’re a nerd and work at a place like HP, it’s a little different for HP’s Take Our Children to Work Day. We get that extra bit of awesome because we’re sharing the cool tech that we create with our kids. Besides this event being good practice for my own pending paternity, I wanted to share my recent experiences from a day of demos here in the Bay Area and talk about what they thought of our gear.
So, yes, these kids may be a little biased because their moms or dads work at HP, but I did notice a couple things. Here’s what we had set up for the day….and what happened:
An ENVY 23 All-in-One Desktop. Since it looks so nice with that glassy screen, I decided to pop in a Blu-ray, The Muppet Movie, to show off how good it looks. And sounds.
A couple of the kids that strolled by, then stopped – hypnotized by the movie (and how it looked so crisp). One asked, “Why is there a TV on the table?”
Parents asked about the price and if there was a TV input. Like I’ve said before, when you put two and two together, this is a good all-purpose PC that’d do well in the kid’s room. It’s a computer….could serve as a TV with optional TV inputs and, with HDMI, you could also plug in your kid’s game consoles. Y’know, if you wanted to get your living room back for a few minutes.
I think I could actually see the light bulb ignite over a couple parents – and their kids’ heads – when I brought up that idea. If I’d wanted to, I could’ve launched a couple games and show them that they wouldn’t even need a game console….but that’s a whole other story.
HP Wireless TV Connect 2.0 to stream 3D 1080p video. Remember that whole thing I was telling you about getting your living room / TV back for a night? This little lifesaver was on-hand and it could prove to save you a ton of headaches. In my tests at my home, I was able to transmit a PS3 game – running in 3D – to another room about 20 feet away. Your results may vary, but the idea that you can kick someone out of the living room and they can still use a console in a different part of the house is pretty cool by my standards. The kids that checked out the technology thought so as well.
All the children coming through the tech area couldn’t get enough of the TouchSmart 520 (and the game). Here’s the funny part: When I first set up the machine, I had left out the keyboard and mouse. By instinct, every child, to a fault, instantly grabs for the usual controls. Then, when I hid the keyboard, they didn’t know what to do at first. After all, not every monitor supports touch. But once one child tapped the screen, they all got it.
Originally, I planned to set up the computer with a paint brush and have them try drawing whatever they wanted on-screen. Kinda like what I did a while back on a TouchSmart 610.
Then I remembered the “Angry Birds Effect” of how a simple game could easily convey a touchscreen’s most obvious, awesome attribute. Any joker could cock back a bird-sized slingshot. I installed a neat little app that works fantastically on touchscreens – Crayon Physics Deluxe. The object of the game: Get the red circle to the gold star. You do that by drawing objects on-screen that come to life. And that is all it took to attract a crowd.
A big crowd.
When I randomly polled kids about what they liked about the TouchSmart 520, a couple answers stood out.
“I already use a tablet, but sometimes I want to use something bigger.”
“I like that I don’t need to use a mouse as much.”
“I wish that every computer worked like this.”
Everyone else was busy trying to solve puzzles.
The TopShot LaserJet Pro M275 printer. There was a pretty good-sized crowd gathered around the TopShot printer because….well, how many printers do you know of have a little photo studio attached to the top of the printer. All you need to do is put an object on the top and the overhead camera takes images from a couple different angles. The results are pretty cool – certainly enough to get one child to volunteer her shoe to get scanned and printed!
Tiny Portables: The Pavilion dm1 and SpectreXT laptops. We wanted to convey to kids (and parents) that you could get a good mobile experience in seriously small doses as well. Whether you want to get something portable and affordable for school – or for work – we’ve got you covered. So at this station, we simply had YouCam software set up and let kids pose for pictures and ham it up. It’s one of those apps that digital superimpose effects (goofy glass, hats, effects…whatever) to your image as your staring into the Webcam.
It always amuses the heck outta my niece. Last time I talked to her on the phone, she was bummed she couldn’t see what goofy digitized hat I was wearing.
The ENVY 6 Sleekbook was set up to prove a point. So, while I’ve mentioned – at length – how this Sleekbook is capable of performing admirably when you soup it up, I was curious what kids would think if they were playing a game on it.
The game: DiRT3 The resolution: 1280 by 720 The graphics settings: Medium
Basically, it was like having an Xbox 360 experience that you can take with you. And to drive home the point, I plugged in an Xbox 360 gamepad. The gathered kids lined up and took turns to see who could take a lap the quickest. Besides the children getting caught up in the makeshift competition, many were impressed.
“This looks just like it does on my TV at home,” one child told me.
“So where is the Xbox?” One child asked while looking at the gamepad quizzically.
Another just grabbed the gamepad picked it up and started to race. He knew what he was doing. And won (with a lap time of 1:27.017).
Even a couple of the folks swung by asking about discrete graphics performance and what I thought of this laptop for general use. (Answer: it works great!)
But I was kind of trapped in my little technology showcase area, so I only got to see a small part of a tour. In fact, HP is hosting Take Our Children to Work Day events for employees all around the world. One co-worker – and occasional TNB contributor – Sheila brought her child in to see how the Houston office works. Though exhausted after a full day’s worth of activities, she shared this with me:
I brought my son to the office for Take Your Child to work Day this week, and I’m still trying to convince him that we really don’t have a popcorn machine here every day.
While he was here he able to see where I worked (and promptly told me he needed to draw some pictures for me to hang on my walls, to make them more beautiful,) learn more about how fun technology and can actually be (playing games on some of our latest products) and meet some of my co-workers (he still talks about how much he liked meeting everyone and tossing a Frisbee down the hall with one of my co-workers...)
Some of his favorite activities of the day included:
Checking out the Halo conference rooms – where, through video conferencing, we had chats with people in another country. (He wanted to know how the person on the other screen could wave back to him real time)
Playing games on some new PCs in the technology center
Coloring part of a drawing in the sustainability area (he liked that all the kids were coloring pieces that would be taped together like a puzzle to form one big picture that emphasizes saving the planet)
[Special thanks to Sheila for her picture at the top of this post. What's the story with those cool Lorax ‘staches they are rocking? Many HP Take Our Children to Work Day events have included characters, imagery and ideas from the The Lorax, an animated film based on the book by Dr. Suess. HP partnered with Universal in promoting the movie, in connection with HP’s environmental messaging and “Every Inkling Makes a Difference” global citizenship campaign.]
All right, so that’s how things went for us. What do your kids think about the tech gear sitting around your house? What can’t your kids do without?