Mar 28 2017

Review: HP Sprout Pro Core i7 6700 Boosts Education from Every Angle

HP’s all-in-one computer is packed with 3D tools for a modern, innovative classroom.

The HP Sprout Pro is packed with great technological tools that are simple to integrate into innovative classroom settings.

At the core of the Sprout is an all-in-one computer with a fast, Intel Core i7 processor, plenty of RAM, a high-end Nvidia GeForce video card and a terabyte- sized solid-state hard drive. Standard peripherals like a mouse and keyboard are included, but ­probably not needed.

There are many ways to interact with the Sprout. The 23-inch LED screen is a 10-point touch screen. There is also the Touch Mat, which sits in front of the monitor where the keyboard is usually found. The mat is blank when the Sprout is off, but when the device is powered up, the overhead HP Illuminator, which looks like a reading lamp, can project anything onto it.

Combined with the Illuminator, the mat becomes a 20-point touchpad with buttons and controls that perfectly match the program or application running on the system. The Illuminator also contains a 14-­megapixel high-resolution camera and an Intel RealSense 3D camera. Finally, the Sprout sports integrated premium ­stereo speakers and dual digital MEMS microphones for a full multi­media experience.

OS Allows All Tools to Work Together

The Sprout’s tools are easy to use and integrate. While the main system runs Windows 10, there is also a unique operating system called Workspace running in tandem. Workspace allows all of Sprout’s tools to be used together to support whatever educational program operators install or think up later. The inputs also allow for scanning 2D documents or even 3D objects. I put a model Conestoga wagon in front of the Sprout, scanned it and made it into a 3D model that could be rotated and manipulated using software.

As an instrument of learning, you won’t find a more tightly integrated bundle of tools. Add an innovative teacher with a good imagination, and you’ve just created a true classroom of the future.

HP Sprout Pro Helps Distance Learners

In my review of the HP Sprout Pro, I tested some of the included tools together with educational programs for use inside the classroom. But the Sprout is also designed as a hub for distance learning. For that task, HP includes an External Display Mixer applet as part of the Workspace operating system suite. I took my classroom on the road, virtually, to see how the Sprout could help teach regardless of distance.

The Mixer app is designed for sharing. It allows teachers to share everything the Sprout is seeing. I was able to remotely share what was being displayed on the screen, even when split into two pictures or feeds. Video from the webcam could also be added. I even included objects that the downward-facing camera was seeing.

It works remotely because the Sprout Companion app for Skype allows all those feeds to look right on the other end for remote students. For example, during a mock lecture on the history of England, with the webcam focused directly on the presenter, I popped the Magna Carta onto the Touch Mat and scanned it. Students then received the document as an attachment for viewing.

Once scanned, I used Mixer to switch to the feed coming from the mat, and was able to draw on the captured image I projected, essentially turning the Sprout into a whiteboard.

The Sprout will even display 3D objects for remote participants without cutting off the main feed that’s focused on the teacher. It might get a bit cluttered, but all of the inputs can be used at the same time. The stereo speakers on the Sprout make it possible to hear when a remote student has a question, and the high-end microphones capture the teacher’s response with perfect clarity.

The HP Sprout Pro would work well in almost any classroom that values innovation, but can also become the cornerstone of a distance-learning program that can share that innovation regardless of a student’s far-flung location.

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