RealTime IT News

HP's Windows 7 Play Spans the Hardware Gamut

Hewlett-Packard today unveiled a wide range of new computers ranging from family PCs to a 42-inch multi-touch screen that could play a role in the next generation of information kiosks.

All are part of the No. 1 PC maker's launch of new products around the debut of Microsoft Windows 7.

The sweeping effort even entails a relaunch of the Compaq brand name. HP (NYSE: HPQ) bought Compaq in 2002, a decision by former CEO Carly Fiorina that drew considerable criticism at the time. Today, no one is complaining: HP has made the Compaq ProLiant line of servers a major force in x86-based servers.

The Compaq Presario 4010f.
The Compaq Presario 4010f. Click to enlarge.
Source: HP
On the desktop, though, Compaq isn't as prominent as it had been 10 or 20 years ago. HP is taking this opportunity to relaunch Compaq as a mass-market brand for first-time buyers, families with kids and small businesses.

The new Compaq systems will be less decked-out than HP systems -- a more value-oriented offering ideal for people looking for "a second or third PC," said Steven Hoffman, director of worldwide marketing in the Personal Systems Group at HP.

HP is rolling out three new desktops and one new laptop with Windows 7's Oct. 22 launch. The Compaq Presario 4010f is a low-end desktop with an AMD Sempron processor (AMD's answer to the Intel Celeron), integrated graphics and a 250 gigabyte (GB) hard drive. Pricing starts at $309.

The Compaq 500B and 505B Series desktop PCs are designed for budget-conscious small businesses. Both come in very small form factors to store them out of the way. Each offers a user the choice of Intel or AMD processors and a variety of memory and storage configurations. Prices start at $359 for the 500B and $409 for the 505B.

Finally, there is the Compaq Presario CQ61z notebook, with a 15.6-inch widescreen high-definition display with 16:9 ratio and six-cell lithium-ion battery. It also offers a choice of Intel or AMD processor and internal configurations. Prices start at $399 after $100 instant savings available Oct. 18 to Dec. 19.

Mega-multi-touch

Compaq made something of a splash with its all-in-one TouchSmart PC last year -- boasting an elegant 20-inch widescreen touchscreen. At $1,999, it didn't exactly set the world on fire, but it sold enough to give HP the feedback it needed for the next generation of touchscreen products.

HP now offers a 20- and 23-inch diagonal widescreen HP TouchSmart PCs: the HP TouchSmart 300 and HP TouchSmart 600, as well as a 42-inch model that can be used as an interactive information display.

HP TouchSmart 9100
The HP TouchSmart 9100. Click to enlarge.
Source: HP
The TouchSmart 300 starts at $899 while the 600, with its larger screen, will start at $1,049. Both will be available Nov. 1 and are targeted at consumers.

The systems also come with a variety of built-in touch-enabled apps, like Hulu Desktop, Netflix, Pandora, Twitter, and the HP Music Store by Rhapsody.

HP is also coming out with a 23-inch business product, the HP TouchSmart 9100 Business PC. It's designed for use in places like hotel rooms, retail, kiosks, health care and government applications. The model has been secured for public use by disabling the USB ports and restricting access within the system. The 9100 ships in December for $1,299.

Then there's the HP LD4200tm, the first 42-inch diagonal, high-definition (HD) digital screen with multitouch support. Users can simply pinch, rotate, arc, flip, press or drag a finger across the screen to access information. It will ship in December and carry a price tag of $2,799.

More desktops and notebooks

In addition to the Compaq brand, HP has its own branded PCs coming out, in both desktop and laptop form factors.

In particular, while desktops may be falling out of favor, they aren't being abandoned yet. For that market, HP has the Elite 7000 business desktop PC, a new brand with a stylish case, Core i7 or Core i5 processors, up to 8GB of memory, support for solid-state drives, and RAID 1 disk mirroring. It starts at $789.

Finally, HP has two new laptop offerings for business users, the HP ProBook 6445b and HP ProBook 6545b.

These business laptops come with a new docking station that has built-in power management to help prolong battery life, although HP is already promising quite a bit of life to start. The six-cell battery offers five hours of use while the nine-cell battery offers eight hours of use.

The laptops start at $799.