HP Multimedia Lab

Things started off somewhat slowly in the Multimedia Lab, where we were shown some of the testing that's being done to validate their workstation hardware and software. The new ZBook 15 and 17 were a major topic here, as these are the first two HP mobile workstations to support Intel's Thunderbolt 2.0 technology (and the first to support Thunderbolt as well, I believe). There was no mention or sight of the ZBook 14, if you're wondering – that's basically a different sort of ZBook, focused more on style and portability than on being a true mobile workstation.

HP showed us a demonstration of a single ZBook 17 streaming two 4K videos from an external Thunderbolt 2 array (from SSDs I believe, though it may have been HDDs) to two 4K displays over a single daisy-chained Thunderbolt 2 connection, and while this was going on they also started a copy from another Thunderbolt 2 SSD enclose on the same chain to a second Thunderbolt 2 SSD enclosure. Add all of that up and it's an impressive amount of data being shunted around, and throughout the demonstration the 4K video continued to roll with no apparent issues.

HP's DreamColor premium LCDs were also discussed, and we've talked about that in past reviews. DreamColor displays use 10-bit panels that come factory calibrated, and they're targeted at imaging/multimedia professionals. It's not hard to see how having accurate colors can really help certain workloads – film crews are one easy example, and HP commented on how they have customers that love the DreamColor panels as they no longer need to check footage on a larger display to verify the quality – they can simply look at it on their mobile workstation display and if needed reshoot a scene right there. For "normal" users the benefits aren't quite so dramatic, but then regular users probably aren't going to spend the money for a DreamColor display.

Another demonstration consisted of a single ZBook 17 powering five separate displays, with two displays running off the Intel integrated graphics while three other displays were powered by the NVIDIA Quadro GPU. Besides the integrated display panel (running off Intel HD Graphics), there was a VGA output (also running off the Intel iGPU), two DisplayPort panels in daisy chain off a DP 1.2 port (NVIDIA), and an Apple Thunderbolt display (NVIDIA). Not all of the displays had active content, but two were showing videos, one had Office open (Excel along with a stock ticker), another had IE running, and the laptop was showing the five connected displays. This may not be a common use case for most people, but it was good to see that HP is actually testing the possibilities.

One item HP did note was that the earlier Apple Thunderbolt displays were not fully validated for Windows use, so there can occasionally be problems. While they did have an Apple Thunderbolt display, the general advice was for Windows users to stick with devices that have been specifically certified to work with Windows.

Moving down to another aisle of testing equipment brought us more ZBook workstations running additional tests. One ZBook 17 laptop had four displays all running as a single large surface off of NVIDIA's Quadro GPU through the use of NVIDIA's Mosaic technology – basically, their alternative to Eyefinity. The screens in question were showing DiRT 3 (I think – it might have been some other Codemasters racing title), and while the looping "attract" demo did run, it wasn't too surprising to see that frame rates were likely in the sub-20 FPS range. Four 1080p displays off a single mobile dGPU? Yeah, that might be asking a bit too much.

Welcome to HP's Houston Campus HP Software Testing Lab
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  • blackmagnum - Tuesday, July 01, 2014 - link

    Please consider whether the pictures should accompany their relevant paragraphs to give the article a more attractive reading layout? Reply
  • gostan - Tuesday, July 01, 2014 - link

    This tour shows you why HP is struggling. Look at those products! And of all the clips in this world, they picked Meg Whitman's interview!!?? Reply
  • aaronjgoodrich - Thursday, July 03, 2014 - link

    Explain your comment please? I can guess why you responded like you had.. but I would not like to assume. I need to hear you out first. Reply
  • HardwareDufus - Tuesday, July 01, 2014 - link

    These guys work in Little dungeons... tiny Little isolated cubes... it's difficult to interact with each other... They need to open those spaces up in the Multimedia Lab and Software Testing Lab.. Reply
  • vLsL2VnDmWjoTByaVLxb - Tuesday, July 01, 2014 - link

    I know the software validation ain't that great as I was stuck with an Elitebook 850 G1 for 6 months that could barely operate after hibernation/sleep. Called HP for support and they were useless.

    ftp://ftp.hp.com/pub/softpaq//sp66001-66500/sp6611... Is the issue/fix in detail, long after HP had told me again and again it was on my side. Kinda shameful I wasted so many hours on trying to fix that or that a bug that large actually exists. HP used to be such a great engineering company!
    Reply
  • aaronjgoodrich - Thursday, July 03, 2014 - link

    Wait, so a software fix which was readily available but not applied to your system is "HP's" engineering issue? I think that's a common sense issue there. No hardware was failing. It was a software issue. Plain as day from the link you provided. Maybe you hadn't applied all the hotfixes/patches to the system you were working on? "Synaptics TouchPad/ForcePad Driver " isn't a problem with engineering of hardware. Synaptics isn't HP. Think again. Reply
  • NikAwesome - Wednesday, July 09, 2014 - link

    They should be responsible because they chose that part. The whole "experience" should be tested and guaranteed by HP because it is their product. They care about HW and SW, that's why Apple has an enormous satisfaction customer ratio (at the cost of being proprietary and not-open, they are control freaks) Reply
  • NikAwesome - Wednesday, July 09, 2014 - link

    Edit: They should be responsible because they chose that part. The whole "experience" should be tested and guaranteed by HP because it is their product. They SHOULD care about HW and SW, that's why Apple has an enormous satisfaction customer ratio (at the cost of being proprietary and not-open, they are control freaks) Reply
  • Samus - Tuesday, July 01, 2014 - link

    Coming from the family Tandy 1000SL 8086, my Dad knew I needed a new PC, one to myself, and one day he came home with a Compaq Prolinea 4/25s. My first PC.

    After a SoundBlasterCD kit to add audio and CD-ROM, 8MB memory upgrade and a 500MB Maxtor hard drive to upgrade the 120GB Quantum, it had seem to reach its limits.

    Until I got a 486/75MHz overdrive chip for my birthday.

    And what was really facinating about this upgrade was a jumper on the motherboard that selected between 25MHz and 33MHz. Curiously, I moved it to 33MHz, and all the sudden, I had a 486/100MHz Overdrive (something the PC wasn't, on paper, capable of.)

    My first "overclock" and on an OEM system. That was a great PC. Eventually I ran OS/2 Warp, then Windows 95. Around the time Windows 98 came out, I built my first PC with an ASUS motherboard and an AMD K5 chip, which I also mildly overclocked to 120MHz from 100MHz. It wouldn't run 133MHz without eventually freezing ;)

    Good times. Ever since, I've been a big fan of Compaq "enterprise-grade" hardware, which today we know as HP Proliant servers, the best selling servers in the world. They're annoyingly proprietary with their drive rails, Softpaq drivers, and torx screws, but having owned a Prolinea 20 years ago, I've been used to that since.

    I'm glad to know a lot of the engineers that evaluated my first PC are still at HP. Because I found it at my parents house a few years ago and fired it up, and it booted right to the Windows 95 desktop with Rise of the Triad, Warcraft 2, and Big Red Racing for good measure.
    Reply
  • highbrow - Wednesday, July 02, 2014 - link

    Did they show you the Cloud Lab?

    http://www.theonion.com/video/hp-on-that-cloud-thi...
    Reply

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