HP's svelte new offering is rugged and priced to sellHewlett-Packard is jumping into the emerging low-cost, ultra-portable notebook market with a laptop designed for students and frequent travelers.
HP introduced the 2133 Mini-Note PC, a 2.6-pound aluminum-clad laptop, which starts at $499 for a Linux operating system and $599 for Windows Vista. The device, which comes with an 8.9-inch high-resolution screen and keyboard slimmed down by 8 percent, will be available through HP's corporate sales channels, HP.com and other online stores and will ship on April 15.
The Mini-Note is part of a new breed of lightweight, low-cost laptops designed for users who want easy portability and Internet access without a large price tag. Taiwanese PC manufacturer Asus helped shine a light on the category last year with the introduction of the Eee PC, a line of compact notebooks starting at $300. ASUS estimates that it will sell 5 million Eee PCs by the end of the year.
Other PC vendors such as Acer are expected to unveil their own ultra-portables in summer. Last week at its Developer Forum, Intel showed off its new power-efficient Atom processors, which will power upcoming light laptops called netbooks.
"You can see from the success of the Eee PC, it looks like 2008 will be the year of the ultra-portable device," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with Jupiter Research.
The HP Mini-Note will be marketed to school districts looking to outfit their students with laptops, as well as business travelers looking for a convenient companion device.
HP executives hope the Mini-Note will drive sales with those two groups through its basic features, which also include a 1.2-GHz processor, 1 GB of memory, a 120-GB hard drive, an internal collision guard that protects the drive when the laptop is dropped, and a Webcam that comes standard in the Windows edition.
Technology analyst Rob Enderle said HP's move into ultra-portables will help set an early bar for rivals in terms of price and performance.
"This is hugely aggressive for HP because this is will establish a new price range for small notebooks," Enderle said. "We've had $400 to $500 laptops before, but they were big and heavy and you didn't want to give it to your child. This is a real laptop computer, not a crippled box."http://articles.sfgate.com