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Review: The HP Z1 as a Webcaster's Workstation

HP's Z1 is the first all-in-one computer with workstation components and field serviceability. Here, encoding expert Jan Ozer takes a look at how this workstation-class portable PC fared in a live production and webcast environment, with testing emphasis in 3 areas: rendering, streaming encoding, and live encoding.

This is the unofficial third segment in a multiple-part series on webcasting[]'s national convention. In this segment, I'll focus on the computer I used to webcast the conference, HP's new Z1 workstation, shown in Figure 1 (below). The computer was so new that at the time of the conference, it was still not formally released (its official release date is April 16), perhaps making the JStreet webcast the first time the Z1 was actually used in a production event.

HP Z1 all-in-one workstation
Figure 1. The HP Z1 all-in-one workstation.

I thought about leaving the Z1 in a bar in Georgetown, a la the famous iPhone prototype, but it's a bit too big to carry around and well past the prototype phase. Besides, after working with the Z1 even for a couple of weeks, the last thing you want to do is leave it anywhere. But I get ahead of myself.

Birth of a Beauty

The Z1 is HP's first all-in-one workstation with a huge 27" display that dwarfs the 17" notebook you can see on its right in Figure 1. Why an all-in-one workstation? Primarily for the size; HP saw a need for a workstation-class product that could fit into the shrinking spaces inhabited by the creative, design, and financial executives who buy a good share of HP's traditional workstations.

Significantly, the Z1 is the first all-in-one computer with workstation components and field serviceability. Like the fabulous Z200, Z400, Z600, and Z800 workstations, you can open the case and change most components without any tools (Figure 2, below). According to the HP officials who briefed me on the product, field serviceability was a key product requirement, since their professional customers didn't want a product they would have to return to swap out a failed optical drive, power supply, or graphics card.

HP Z1 all-in-one workstation
Figure 2. The Z1 is completely field serviceable with tool-less entry and component switching.

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Built for computer-aided design, digital media and entertainment professionals, the HP Z1 provides blazingly fast rendering and performance.