When someone says 'got any plans for the weekend?' you can usually assume they're making idle small talk to fill an awkward silence, or planning to burgle you while you visit granny. But not HP.
When HP's people ask what you're doing at the weekend, what they really mean is "drop whatever you're doing -- we're taking you to the Cannes film festival in sunny southern France to (literally) party with Bruce Willis, William Shatner and Co., drink champagne on expensive yachts, take in a premiere or two, oh, and look at some new products."
We reluctantly dragged ourselves along, and can report that the event was a lavish backslapping exercise following the launch of a new ad campaign. Plus an excuse to show off by pointing out that Dreamworks (Shrek, Madagascar and the forthcoming Over The Hedge starring Willis et al) uses HP workstations to create its animated blockbusters.
The ad campaign was themed: "the computer is personal again". Nobody could quite explain what that actually meant, but we think it means "our new computers are sexy, check them out". And indeed you should, the new HP Pavilion DV2000 Entertainment Notebook PC is a stunning-looking piece of kit that makes HP's previous consumer laptops look about as sophisticated as Wayne Rooney.
Available initially with a 14.1-inch screen and later in 17-inch form, the DV2000 has a shiny outer coating known as the HP Imprint finish. It also has touch-sensitive DVD/CD playback buttons and a Lightscribe DVD rewriter that lets you burn labels onto compatible discs. Inside it uses the brand new AMD Turion X2 dual-core processor (AMD's answer to Intel Core Duo) and an Nvidia GeForce Go 6150 graphics card, but bizarrely there's no sign of Windows XP Media Center Edition.
HP also showed off the Pavilion Slimline S7500 series PC. It's a small form factor machine that has a very attractive look about it. We hated the silvery, greyish beige finish, but HP says you can stick funky covers (like the Nokia Express-On phone fascias of yesteryear) to brighten it up.
There's no firm word on availability as yet (in time for the 'back to school' season was as specific as HP got), but the entry-level DV2000 will cost around €999 (£680), while the S7500 series should go on sale for as little as €400 (£270). We'll have an in-depth look at both in the not-too-distant future. -RR