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HP, Lenovo Roll Out SMB Notebooks At CES

New SMB products from major vendors highlight the newly business-friendly Consumer Electronics Show this week. Check out the latest business-oriented notebooks, desktops, and netbooks -- including touch-screen models and even so-called hybrids.

Don't let the name fool you. Sure, they may call it the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), but the giant trade show in Las Vegas this week also has plenty of products for small and midsize businesses, including new laptop models from HP and Lenovo -- and even a touch-screen netbook! And that's only the beginning as the lines between consumer, SMB, and enterprise products continues to blur.

Of prime interest to SMBs is the HP Probook 6440b/6540b notebooks. Differentiated by screen size (14-inch or 15.6-inch) the new additions to HP's SMB-oriented notebook line are entry-level business machines that resemble the company's high-end EliteBook line, but with a few significant downgrades. Rather than all metal construction, for instance, the new ProBooks have a magnesium alloy frame and alloy hinges, but a plastic body.

probook HP's new ProBooks are aimed at SMBs.

And unlike other ProBook models , the new versions don't sport the stylish chiclet keyboard that graces the thin and light 5310m -- but at least it's still "spill-resistant."

Outputs include VGA and the new DisplayPort connectors, and the devices also have HP's QuickLook and QuickWeb for "instant" access to Linux-powered Web browsing and e-mail/calendar/contacts. HP's ProtectTools security suite is also included.

Options cover goodies like Intel Core i7 processors, Blu-ray drives, discrete ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4550 graphics with 512MB of RAM, 2 megapixel Web cam, TouchPoint "pointing stick" and 9-cell battery for extended power. Prices start $949.

But that's not all, of course.

HP is also debuting a business netbook with touch-screen capability. The HP Mini 5102 sports an all-metal (magnesium and aluminum) case in black, blue, or red, with an optional handle (designed for use in educational settings) in a 2.64-pound package. The spill-resistant chiclet keyboard is 95% of full size. The device holds up to 2 GB of memory and a 160 GB to 320 GB hard drive.

5102 The HP Mini 5102 has a touch-screen... and a handle.

But the real news here is the optional 10.1-inch capacitative multi-touch touch-screen. According to HP representatives, the touch-screen adds only about $50 to the price. "We really want people to buy it," said Greg Morris, HP's world-wide product marketing manager for business PCs in the Personal Systems Group. (An HD option boosts resolution from 1024 x 600 to 1366 x 768.)

Prices start at $399 (including Corel Home Office), and a fully loaded version will cost about $550 when it ships at the end of this month. Expensive for a netbook, but this as about as feature-packed as netbooks get, including face-recognition security (there's no room for fingerprint reader), WAN options, and a 6-cell battery rated at up to 10 hours of life. You can choose from multiple operating systems as well, including various flavors of Windows 7, SUSE Linux, FreeDOS, and more.

The company is also introducing the HP Mini 2102 business netbook, starting at $329, as well as new HP EliteBook notebooks for the enterprise market, with prices starting at $1,099 to $1,499.

By far the coolest gadget in HP's new arsenal, though, is the HP Notebook Projector Companion. This $500 device is about the size of a couple of smartphones and weighs less than a pound. But it can throw a bright, 858 x 600, 60-inch image on a wall up to 8.5-feet away. While it doesn't run on batteries, it can use use an HP laptop's AC adaptor, so you have to carry only one.

Despite the emphasis on mobility, HP also has desktop news. The HP Compaq 8000f Elite is designed to be the company's greenest desktop ever, with no BFRs or PVCs "from the wall to the mouse" and 100% recyclable packaging. It's 30% more efficient than standard desktops at idle and includes HP's PowerAssistant software.

The 8000f is a "showcase" product in the standard 8000 and 8100 Compaq Elite Business PC lines, intended to "drive the supply chain" toward green products by working with suppliers to find more environmentally friendly substitutes for "substances of concern." Prices start at $849, about the same as the 8000 and 8100, but not packing the same horsepower.

Surprisingly, HP is also using CES to announce its new Z200 Workstation, aimed at SMBs in the engineering and design industries. Prices will start at $769 when the workstation ships in February. And the company is also rolling out a variety of new monitors, including the HP ZR22w/ZR24w, HP Compaq LE19f/LA22f, and HP Compaq l2105tm touch-screen monitor.

Oh, and there are new HP consumer machines as well.

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