HP introduces new desktop PC ranges, models

Hewlett-Packard (HP) introduced two new desktop PCs for small business and enterprise customers, Tuesday, and reorganized its commercial PC ranges in a move it claimed will simplify things for customers.

The reshuffle groups PCs into basic, mainstream and advanced ranges, the HP Compaq 2000, 5000 and 7000 series, the company said. On Monday, HP revamped its server range for small and medium-size businesses.

HP will sell the new business PCs alongside the current d200, d300 and d500 business PC product lines, said David Hemphill, a product manager with HP.

The first model in the 2000 series, the dx2000, comes in a compact microtower case, 356 millimeters high by 180 millimeters wide by 396 millimeters deep, with eight USB (Universal Serial Bus) 2.0 ports, the company said. It can be ordered with Intel Corp.'s processors ranging from a 2.6GHz Celeron to a 3.0GHz Pentium 4, according to the company's Web site. The base model dx2000 ships with 128M bytes of DDR (double data rate) SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM), and it can hold up to 1G byte. The machine is available with hard disk drives from 40G bytes to 80G bytes in capacity, a choice of optical drives and either Mandrake Linux or the Home or Professional versions of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows XP operating system, according to HP. The cheapest configuration will cost around US$389 in the U.S., the company said.

HP promises that the other new model, the dc5000, will have a lifecycle of at least 12 months. It is available in two case designs: small form factor and microtower. Like the dx2000, the dc5000 can be ordered with Celeron or Pentium 4 processors running at up to 3GHz. The dc5000 can be fitted with up to 4G bytes of DDR SDRAM, a hard disk up to 160G bytes in capacity, a choice of optical drives and either Mandrake Linux or Windows XP Home or Professional operating systems, the company said.

The dc5000 will simplify life for IT managers, HP said: Both case designs can be opened and components added or replaced without the need for tools, and the company offers its HP Lifecycle Solutions management tools to help in deploying and maintaining the systems. HP can also notify users of any hardware changes that may affect their software image through its Product Change Notification service, it said.

A bottom-of-the-range dc5000 will cost around US$599 in the U.S., HP said.

Eventually, the company wants to guarantee IT managers that they will ship business PCs with a stable platform for at least six months on the low-end machines or 12 to 15 months on the more powerful desktops, Hemphill said. Every time a PC manufacturer upgrades to a new chipset, IT managers need to create new software images of their corporate applications that are loaded onto a PC instead of installing all the applications separately, smoothing the rollout of new PCs.

Updating software images can be a time-consuming process, and maintaining a single image for a set period of time makes an IT manager's life easier, Hemphill said.

Most companies buy new PCs in phases, upgrading certain users while other users stay on the older equipment, said Roger Kay, vice president of client computing at IDC in Framingham.

This means that manufacturers have to keep older technology in the product lineup so corporate customers can complete their rollouts, and maintain their software images. In the short term, this can actually confuse new customers rather than simplifying matters, Kay said.

"You want to have the same platform throughout the rollout period, so one of the things that happens is that (PC companies) are forced to keep products in their lines that are not the latest and greatest. Inevitably, you've got complexity," Kay said.

The first models in the 2000 and 5000 series are available immediately, directly from HP or through its reseller channels, the company said, although its Web site is not yet taking orders. HP's old d200, d300 and d500 ranges remain available on its Web site.

Models in the 7000 series, which HP said will feature advanced security and service and management features for deployment in corporate networks, will not be available until the third quarter.

The 7000 series PCs will likely feature Grantsdale, Intel's forthcoming chipset with support for PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) Express interconnects and DDR2 memory, Hemphill said. The 2000 and 5000 series PCs will get upgraded to Grantsdale by March of next year, he said.

The dc5000 PC is available in Latin America and Canada, in addition to the U.S., Hemphill said. The dx2000 PC is available worldwide, an HP spokeswoman said.

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