HP Builds Touch Capability into Second-Generation Z1 Workstation

5 Jan, 2014 By: Cyrena Respini-Irwin

Nearly two years ago, HP unveiled the Z1, an all-in-one professional workstation whose design eliminated the distinction between computer and monitor. Today, HP launched the second generation of that space-saving form factor, with the addition of touch capability and Thunderbolt peripheral connection ports. "We don't innovate for innovation's sake ... every innovation we make has to have a distinct customer benefit," said Mike Diehl, worldwide product manager for high-end workstations in HP's Commercial Solutions Business Unit.

Like its predecessor, the HP Z1 G2 is an all-in-one workstation built around a snap-open chassis; the hinged display opens like the cover of a book, so users can access most of the internal components without tools. New additions to the design include optional Intel Thunderbolt 2.0 ports and a choice of 27" displays: a 10-point, Windows 8–compliant touch-capable version and a nontouch, antiglare version.

The HP Z1 G2 offers a 27", backlit, touch-capable display with an edge-to-edge glass surface. Image courtesy of HP.

HP was careful to clarify that the touch interface of the new workstation does not replicate that of a high-precision graphics tablet. Instead, said Diehl, it's "very similar to high-end smartphones and tablets we see today," and accepts input from a finger or capacitive stylus. With Windows 8, he continued, "multi-touch is a very intuitive and easy way for the user to interact with the system."

In addition to the support for touch and Thunderbolt, the Z1 G2 also features:

  • a choice of Windows 7 or 8.1, and support for Linux
  • a range of graphics options, including Intel integrated HD graphics and NVIDIA Mobile Quadro K610M, K2100M, K3100M, and K4100M graphics processing units (GPUs)
  • 2560 x 1440 screen resolution
  • fourth-generation Intel Core and Xeon E3 processors
  • error-correcting code (ECC) memory
  • RAID storage options
  • optional mSATA flash storage
  • 2 USB 3.0 side ports
  • dual-tone, front-facing speakers and DTS Studio Sound Audio
  • wireless keyboard (without trackpad) and mouse
  • a 90% efficient power supply.

Improvements over the previous generation include better accessibility of rear input/output ports and enhanced ease of use in "service mode," when the display is rotated to a horizontal position and opened to expose the interior.

Users can access the internal components of the Z1 G2 by lifting the display panel.Image courtesy of HP.

Diehl explained that the better display head movement is thanks to new inner springs that prevent sagging and enable the unit to fold back more easily. The Z1 G2 lacks the first generation's FireWire port: "We felt like it was time to free that space up on our platform," said Diehl.

Mike Diehl provides a walkthough of the new Z1 G2 in this video from HP.

Touching New Markets

HP recommends the Z1 G2 for professionals working in CAD, graphic arts, and university education. The former group — including product designers and architects — has been the "biggest Z1 customer space," said Josh Peterson, director of worldwide product management for HP's Commercial Solutions Business Unit, although the company has also "seen a lot of uptake in the education space," he noted. "The Z1 has been a door-opener for us ... it's made a big difference in our market share growth."

Although the primary focus on the design, architecture, media and entertainment, and education markets will remain the same, Diehl explained, HP hopes to make headway in new markets with the addition of touch and Thunderbolt. "Our goal is to build on the success we've had with our current Z1," Diehl said. "[The Z1 G2] opens up a whole new set of workflows," affirmed Peterson.


The HP Z1G2 workstation is expected to be available in late January. U.S. pricing starts at $1,999.

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