Streaming Media

Streaming Media on Facebook Streaming Media on Twitter Streaming Media on LinkedIn
 

Review: HP Z1 G2 All-in-One Workstation

In this review, we'll look at four key new features that make the Z1 all-in-one idea an even better toolset for those who need super-fast connectivity to external storage, coupled with touch capability and an all-solid-state-drive (SSD) configuration.

Touch

This brings us to the final and, some would say, biggest upgrade from the Z1 to the Z1 G2: touch capability. Without a doubt, if you like the Metro interface of Windows 8, the ability to touch your screen is a huge benefit. At the 27" monitor size, it’s almost natural to reach out and swipe between apps or use multiple-touch gestures to manipulate images.

At first we weren’t certain we’d be that interested in just touching the Metro-themed tiles to move between programs, but then it dawned on us: this touch thing could make for some interesting streaming production gear.

One example would be to take the concept of a video switcher to the next level. Rather than requiring a rackmounted video mixer and a separate keyboard, monitor, and mouse—also known as KVM—we see a role for a touch-enabled workstation like the Z1 G2 in acting as both the input and output device.

There are already software tools on the marketplace today that take advantage of the original Thunderbolt connectors on some Windows-based laptops to provide multiple SDI or HDMI video inputs. Coupled with the robust GPU and an i7-level CPU in the Z1, these software tools could probably handle 4-6 Full HD video inputs, as well as simultaneously providing video mixing and streaming capabilities to act as a fully portable video mixing station for those who don’t mind the extra bulk of the Z1 G2 form factor. Pricing would also probably be less expensive than the more popular rackmounted video mixing solutions currently on the market today, although that’s merely conjecture on our part.

What would it take to round out this scenario and make it a reality? Integrated Thunderbolt 2 connections that can be used for more than just data storage. We will follow this closely in the coming months, to see how HP handles the move to permanently integrate Thunderbolt into the entire workstation lineup.

Conclusion

So what’s our take on the second-generation Z1? We like it and think it’s a solid upgrade to an already-impressive form factor. The bump in GPU and CPU options, including several new Xeon and Core i5/i7 processors—coupled with SSD and mSATA drives—gives a snappy feel to Windows 8. In addition, the option of Thunderbolt 2, although not a long-term solution, is workable in the current state if you’re willing to lift the lid and swap out the Blu-ray module for those times when you need to burn shiny discs. Finally, we see the benefit of touch-enabled computing on a really big screen, and think it will lead to some interesting opportunities for streaming production.

Related Articles
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.
How does the all-in-one that's won over the workstation crowd stack up against laptop form-factor workstations for speed, power, and upgradability for streaming media producers?
Is this HP's chance to polish off the Apple all-in-one competitor?
Who says hefty laptops can't be nimble and quick?