In the wake of its proposed acquisition of Compaq Computer, Hewlett-Packard forged ahead this week, announcing three new desktop PCs and two new monitors set to ship in October. The announcements may be a signal to HP's users that the company has no plans to stall shipments or development in its own line of hardware while considering any future actions that relate to overlap with Compaq's products.
Among its new PCs is the e-PC 40, which sports a relatively small footprint and most notably, some diagnostic tools that could help users solve their own problems instead of calling their IT departments for help. The e-PC 40 is 3.7 inches wide, 9.8 inches high and 11 inches deep, and weighs less than 10 pounds. Users can also purchase a separate kit that lets them take up even less space by using a flat-panel monitor.
"The development on this went far back before the planned acquisition of Compaq was announced, and it could be a sign that HP won't cannibalize its own products, based on the pending acquisition," says John Dunkle, an analyst with Workgroup Strategic Services.
The e-PC ships with HP's e-Diagtools and Toptools, which lets users diagnose hardware- and software-related problems on their PCs, including issues such as driver incompatibility or operating system failures. Specifically, Toptools also lets users back up hard drive data onto a system's hard drive so it can be recovered if the system fails.
HP is also set to launch the Vectra VL420 Pentium 4 desktop, which will be available as a regular desktop, minitower or smaller desktop. The VL420 will feature three slots for memory upgrades and four Universal Serial Bus ports. The system will also feature Intel's 845 chipset, using synchronous dynamic RAM instead of Rambus' RAM, in order to lower the overall cost of the system, says Mike White, North American marketing manager for HP's business desktop division.
Optional 802.11b wireless connectivity is also available for the VL420. The Vectra VL420, available from Oct. 1, will cost approximately $US899.
In addition to preparing for the launch of the new systems in the fourth quarter, HP also organised its business product line into two areas: the professional line, which includes the e-PC 40, the Vectra VL420, and the high-end VL800 desktop; and the low-end line, which currently features only a single PC, the new Vectra XE310. The XE310 features built-in tools for troubleshooting, tool-less access to internal components and Intel Celeron processors up to 1.1GHz. HP will offer faster processors in January. The XE310 will be available October 1, with prices starting at $550.
The IDG News Service contributed to this story.