CES 2010: HP shows off touchscreen netbook

Hewlett-Packard announced its first touchscreen netbook and several other portable products before CES officially got under way in Las Vegas.

Most notably, HP unveiled the Mini 5102 touchscreen netbook, with the device using a 10-inch display, an Intel Atom processor, and customized face recognition software.  The touchscreen computer will sell for $399, and weighs in at just 2.6 pounds.

HP’s first touchscreen netbook also uses two-finger capacitive touch software– similar to the Asus Eee T91 netbook — with other manufacturers expected to use the same touch technology, as it has been designed specifically to handle multi-finger gestures.

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The netbook ships with Microsoft Windows 7, an interesting choice considering the unimpressive reception Windows 7 starter has received from netbook users.

HP remains the largest PC manufacturer in the world, and hopes that its CES product announcements will help elevate it above Dell, Lenovo, Acer, and other competitors.  The company also introduced the Mini 210 and Mini 2102 — neither ships with a touchscreen — but they also use the Intel Atom CPU and ship with Windows 7.

The netbook market has been extremely profitable for manufacturers, as the low-cost, portable devices have increased in popularity during a year the economy greatly suffered.  As CES progresses over the weekend, expect netbook class devices to be one of the most popular consumer electronic products shown off during the event.

Touchscreen netbooks may be the next feature all manufacturers rush to embrace for future product launches.  Just two years ago, multi-finger gesture technology was relatively disappointing and inaccurate — but that has changed, with touchscreens now much more accurate and useful.