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In advance of the consumer release of Windows 7 next week, HP on Tuesday announced 11 new desktop and laptop computers loaded with new features such as multi-touch, tilting Webcams, new keypad designs, improved power management, the ability to connect to home gaming systems, and even a drain for spills.
Multi-touch is a big part of HP's new line-up. For example, HP is upgrading its TouchSmart tx2 consumer tablet, which the company unveiled late last year. The multi-touch tablet allows users to interact with the PC either with the included stylus or with their fingers. The twist display allows users to use the laptop in a PC mode, to flip the display to show something to others, or in a more stereotypical tablet mode. The laptop, like the rest of HP's line of touch products, will come with applications found on the HP TouchSmart PC. It starts at $799.
Another new multi-touch laptop, the DV3, is a traditional laptop rather than a tablet, but for now it's only testing in Europe.
The company is also releasing two new TouchSmart PCs, the 300 and the 600. Both continue down the multi-touch path started by previous iterations, and include new multi-touch applications from Hulu, Netflix and Twitter, among others. The 300 gets a 20-inch screen, while the 600 gets a 23-inch screen. Select models of the 600 will be able to connect to the Xbox, PlayStation, and Wii via HDMI or composite video. The 300 starts at $899 and the 600 at $1,049.
HP is also launching a slate of new business-focused PCs, including one with multi-touch, the TouchSmart 9100 Business PC, which follows up on the TouchSmart DX9000. It will roll out in December. Pricing is to be determined, but the current model starts at $1,299. Unlike the current model, the 9100 will be customizable. It will also be shipped to businesses with the USB and other peripheral ports locked down and will have solid-state drives as an option, as HP expects companies to use the 9100 in customer-facing environments such as hotels where security and power savings are key.
Among the businesses using the business TouchSmarts are: Compass Bank in Houston, which is using them with a "virtual loan officer" application; Mariott Nashville, which has 15 of them in its lobby and business center; a high-end wedding gown store in Boston that has an application that allows brides-to-be to virtually try on wedding gowns; and Sheraton. Some high-end resorts have also sought the business TouchSmarts for use in hotel rooms.
Though this year has been particularly hard on the business PC market thanks to the economy, HP believes next year will be different because of its expectation of rebounding budgets and the long lag time between upgrades at many companies. "We look at this as the year of the refresh," says desktop product marketing director Anneliese Olson.
HP is also announcing two new business notebooks, entry-level enterprise laptops called the ProBook 6545b and 6445b, which will be available in November, and the first of a new small business line called HP Elite, which will be available when Windows 7 is released to consumers on October 22nd.
The new ProBooks are the first PCs that that come with... a drain. The spill-resistant keyboard is coupled with a drain system that lets water seep out the bottom of the laptop without doing damage to the hardware.
The drain isn't the only new feature in the ProBooks. They also come with a new keypad design, a one-touch calculator button, and up to 8 hours of battery life with the optional 9-cell battery. According to HP, the new AMD chips on these ProBooks allow for 39% more battery life than previous iterations.
HP is also introducing the HP Power Assistant, which measures power usage directly from an on-board AC monitoring circuit and bases its power calculations on those measurements, on the ProBook series. It can tell users exactly how much battery time is left and even the amount of money that will be saved on power if a user changes his or her power settings. An administrative tool will ensure IT managers can see this data as well.
The HP Elite line is a new sub-brand for high-end small and medium-sized business desktops. It includes an Intel P55 chipset, requires graphics cards and is designed for a company without a big network, according to HP. The Elite, the ProBooks and the business TouchSmart are only the first of a series of new business PCs that will come out in the next four to five months, according to HP senior product marketing manager Bernadina Mickey.
HP also plans a new touchscreen interactive signage display, the LD4200tm. HP entered the interactive signage market, which consists of screens often used in retail and in corporate lobbies, earlier this year with 42-inch and 47-inch displays. The price for the LD4200tm, which uses infrared technology for its touch functionality, hasn't been set yet, though Kirk Godkin, North American manager for business desktop PCs, estimates that it will come in at around $1,999.
According to marketing director Olson, HP is refining its sales strategy around Compaq by clarifying that Compaq is the company's low-price, environmentally-friendly brand. It will continue to be targeted in the United States mostly toward consumers and small businesses. New are the AMD Sempron-based Compaq Presario CQ61 notebook, starting at $399.99, and the Compaq Presario CQ4010F desktop. Compaq is also offering two new desktops -- the 500B and 505B -- aimed at small and medium-sized businesses and starting at $359.
Other new features on HP's new line of PCs include Webcams that tilt with the use of a nob on the back of their screens, a new dock for business laptops, and a new easy-to-use proprietary HP laptop lock.
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