HP details latest notebook range

Company has unveiled 13 laptops and claims to have taken design to a new level, though analysts have focused on useability

HP has unveiled 13 laptops — some featuring the latest Intel mobile technology — while claiming to take the form factor to a new level.

The launch in Shanghai, featuring a monster 20-inch screen, entertainment-oriented product known as "The Dragon", comes as major rivals Dell and Lenovo also add to their PC laptop ranges.

Speaking at the HP event, HP Personal Systems Group executive vice president Todd Bradley said: "It is no longer simply enough just to provide great products. They have to allow you to connect to that information that is most important to you."

The new range spans the chunky "Dragon" HDX Entertainment model all the way across to a lightweight tablet that features an add-on battery pack that allows for "long-haul battery life" of anywhere from 10 to 15 hours, an area other manufacturers have also targeted.

However, analysts covering enterprise IT users focused on the manageability of HP's new offerings.

Gene Wang, until the end of last year chief executive of Bitfone but now vice president at HP's handheld business since the company's acquisition, spoke at length about the HP Enterprise Mobility Suite, covering areas such as over-the-air fixes, remote lock/wipe options for better security and web-based self-service and support.

Other moves in the market, for example Nokia's buyout some 18 months ago of Intellisync, as well as RIM's success with its flavour of end-to-end mobile email in the form of its BlackBerry devices and software, highlight user-manageability concerns.

One industry analyst said that the rate of product evolution is now almost outstripping the ability of corporate IT departments to keep mobile and wireless devices in check.

HP walked tall about its resurgence in personal computing. The company, which historically spans well-engineered — though at times less glamorous — HP-badged models, as well as Compaq PCs, given a logo spruce-up this week, is again number one in PC laptop sales worldwide, according to the latest figures from IDC.

Execs say end users, having experienced personal devices they love and use around the clock and the design advances of the likes of Apple and niche PC makers such as Flybook, now demand better design.

Given the advances of Dell until the last couple of years, others have pointed to design and innovation as strengths HP needed to fully tap. HP's Bradley said: "The PC industry was commoditising... going down the path of giving little value to anyone."

Meanwhile, sitting in China, home to Lenovo, which two years ago jumped into the PC top tier after its purchase of IBM's PC division, HP proudly talked about its breadth in IT hardware, software and services, touting its position as an advantage over Lenovo, which is especially formidable in its home market but concentrates on PCs.

The launch of some of HP's new laptops, as well as those from competitors, ties in with Intel's Centrino Pro platform, formerly code-named Santa Rosa, coming to market. The platform is made up of microprocessor, chipset and radio.

Speaking at the HP event, Intel's executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer, Sean Maloney, said: "Moore's Law is alive and well."

Plans include integrating Wimax technology into products within the next two years, in much the same way Wi-Fi has been with Centrino, and the Silverthorn platform, all about allowing very small, power-efficient devices.


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