HP introduces new lineup of business PCs

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) announced its new PC products for the fourth quarter on Monday, saying it will launch three desktops and two monitors next month.

HP will launch its second generation e-PC, the e-PC 40, which is 3.7 inches wide, 9.8 inches high and 11 inches deep, and weighs under 10 pounds. When launched in October, it will feature upgradable memory, and a Celeron processor from Intel Corp. running at up to 1GHz. Pentium 4 models will follow in December. The e-PC has also gone through an image makeover, with the new version a two-tone black and off-white design.

While the e-PC still only features four components -- a hard drive, power supply, system chassis and memory -- it also comes loaded with diagnostic software. "If something goes wrong with it, you can diagnose it in about five minutes," said Mike White, North American marketing manager for HP's business desktop division. E-PC uses HP's e-Diagtools and Toptools for systems diagnosis. Users can also purchase an optional "integration kit," which allows users to actually mount a flat panel display onto the e-PC to save space, White said. The e-PC, available from Oct 1., will start at US$579. The Pentium 4 version is expected to be priced from $849.

HP is also set to launch the Vectra VL420 Pentium 4 desktop, which will be available in three sizes: regular desktop, minitower or smaller desktop, all three with the same software configuration. The VL420 will feature three slots for memory upgrades, and four USB (universal serial bus) ports. The system will also feature Intel's 845 chipset, using SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM) instead of Rambus Inc.'s RAM, in order to lower the overall cost of the system, White said. An optional DVD (digital versatile disc) writer, as well as 802.11b wireless connectivity are available for the VL420. The Vectra VL420, available from Oct. 1, will cost approximately $899.

In addition to preparing for the launch of the new systems in the fourth quarter, HP also simplified its business product line into two areas: the professional line, which includes the products above, as well as its high-end VL800 desktop; and the low-end line, which currently features one PC: the new Vectra XE310. The XE310 is HP's most affordable business PC, and features built-in tools for troubleshooting, tool-less access to internal components, and Intel Celeron processors up to 1.1GHz, with support for even faster Celerons from January, White said.

The XE310 features "Toptools," which backs up hard drive data onto a small, unused section of the drive, in case a recovery is needed. Top tools can also be used to back information up to a server, in case of a total hard drive crash, White said. The XE310 will be available from Oct. 1, priced from $549.

HP also will also launch two monitors from its Professional line in the fourth quarter. The company will launch the HP L1520, a 15-inch LCD monitor, which will be priced at $499, and the P1130, a 21-inch flat panel CRT (cathode ray tube), which will cost $849. Both monitors will also be available from Oct. 1.

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Douglas F. Gray

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