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HP revamps its business notebooks

Hewlett-Packard unveils a new range of notebook computers targeting busy office workers in the Asia-Pacific region.

Hewlett-Packard has announced a trio of business portables and the availability of Solid State Drives (SSD) in its high-end offerings.

Unveiled to the media in Ho Chi Minh City last week, the HP Compaq 2210b, HP Compaq 6520s and HP Compaq 6720s are laptops with 12.1-inch, 14.1-inch and 15.4-inch displays, respectively, that focus on the needs of the office user.

One common question is: Why pay more for a business portable when consumer models offer much better price-to-features ratio? Well, the premium for business machines often goes into speedier service support and enhanced security tools. The latter is particularly important as most corporations value the data more than the hardware containing it.

This is why HP believes that businesses are primed to adopt SSD storage, which cost almost 10 times more than conventional magnetic hard drives. The flash-based SSD not only offers faster data access and a significant performance boost, it is also hardier and more reliable since it does not contain moving parts. According to HP, the SSD option will be available on its professional business notebook series from early November this year.

The new HP Compaq range has undergone a noticeable makeover. Unlike its older brothers which sport black exteriors and sharp corners, the latest notebook models take a page out of the entertainment Pavilion design. The inside uses a two-tone scheme with some sexy curves added, giving the illusion of a smaller girth, while the top cover is made from an attractive matt silver magnesium alloy.

Unfortunately, such beauty comes at a price. The new hinge design does not allow the screen to be rotated to 180 degrees, which may be an issue when used with third party accessories like the Logitech Alto keyboard. Backward compatibility with HP docking options are also gone, though a new selection of accessories will be made available. The trackstick option is also no longer available, leaving only the touchpad for controlling the cursor. None of the new notebooks offer any Webcam options, a feature we believe will be sorely missed by those who need to do video conferencing frequently. It seems that the latest HP models offer a step up in looks, but possibly a step down when it comes to functionality.

But what consumers are really paying for in these new portables are the HP Total Care support along with HP ProtectTools. There were a total of 26 new services announced for HP Total Care, but we will only touch on the core services here. Besides instant support and 24-hour online technical chat, HP has partnered with Symantec to offer a subscription-based HP Email Filter which removes spam before it gets to your mailbox. Should the laptop be stolen, a tracking service can be activated which will automatically send the IP address to a predefined email to help locate the lost machine. HP ProtectTools are a set of security applications which maintains the system while protecting the data in the notebook.

The new portables also come with HP's QuickLook feature. Similar to the QuickPlay feature, QuickLook allows users to access vital information such as emails and appointments on the notebooks without having to boot into Windows.

The products are available across the Asia-Pacific region.

Darius Chang of CNET Asia reported from Ho Chi Minh City.