HP's traditional market is business customers, and it's now hoping to appeal to a new segment: owners of hotels, internet cafés, or other public spaces whose customers only need to check email and upload photos. The Passport 1912nm Internet Monitor, announced today, is a very light all-in-one desktop running an undisclosed build of Linux. Its 18.5-inch screen shows only large icons for music, photos, video, settings, and the web, and there's little storage or RAM. Instead, it's built to be foolproof and (we're guessing) malware-resistant. A four-in-one card reader and five USB ports allow users to connect media, and the version of Firefox it's running has many of the options removed, leaving only what's absolutely necessary.
Considering how little there is to it, the Monitor ran pretty well when we tried it out. Opening photos was reliable if not particularly fast, and switching between applications was brisk. Buyers and users can't do any customization or install programs, which prevents it from becoming prone to bloatware, and the matte 1366 x 768 display is really all one needs for the rest of the hardware. HP has essentially made the kind of computer that can be used by endless tourists without ever being weighed down by what they leave behind. Unfortunately, it's also only as good as its internet connection, which is ethernet-only. That meant when our connection went out partway through testing it, we were left with nothing but a file system and media player. The selling price of $259 is more expensive than some versions of the higher-specced and somewhat comparable Asus Eee Box, but the custom software and all-in-one design will probably make the Internet Monitor more convenient. The Passport 1912nm is on sale starting today in the US.