September 24, 2012
Dell's September 19 announcement of new enterprise products struck a forward-thinking tone, typified by next-gen form factors and the soon-to-arrive Windows 8 Professional. The business computers Hewlett-Packard unveiled a day later took a different approach: solid specifications but somewhat traditional design cues.
While future headlines will be dominated by touchscreens and a new OS, HP could still find a market for its new ProBook 4545s and Compaq Pro 6305, both of which run Windows 7. With budget-friendly pricing, the products could appeal to SMBs and institutions, and the ProBook's immediate availability provides an option, unlike the recent Windows 8 announcements, for business users looking to purchase now. The Compaq Pro 6305 is a desktop PC that will be available both as a microtower and in a smaller form factor. Aimed at users who want a predictable life cycle of up to 18 months, the computer lets buyers choose from four AMD "Trinity" accelerated processing units (APU): the A10, A8, A6, and A4. HP says the chips, which have been billed as rivals to Intel's ubiquitous Ivy Bridge chips, offer 21% better performance than previous models. The computer also offers various system optimizations, such as AMD Turbo Core 3.0 technology to automatically boost performance while multitasking, and a variety of connections and slots, including several PCI slots and 10 USB ports, four of which offer high-speed USB 3.0 transfers. Beginning October 8, the Compaq Pro 6305 will be available in a Windows 7 configuration, with prices starting at $539. A Windows 8 version will follow some time later. [ Read about HP's new Envy 23 and 20 TouchSmart PCs. See HP Unveils Windows 8-Friendly Touch PCs. ] The ProBook 4545s, meanwhile, is a notebook PC that, like the Pro 6305, runs on AMB A-series APUs--either an A6 or the more powerful A8. It also offers AMD Enduro switchable graphics technology, which uses a discrete AMD Radeon Graphics GPU to efficiently manage battery life. The computer features aluminum casing and a 15.6-inch 1366x768-pixel screen. At 5.14 pounds and 1.4 inches thick, the ProBook won't be mistaken for an Ultrabook, but its heft should help it stand up to business use. The 4545s can support up to 8 GB of RAM, offers SATA drives in both 5400 rpm and 7200 rpm varieties, and can run up to 13.5 hours between battery recharges. The 4545s is already available, with prices starting at $579. Two similar ProBooks--the 4445s and 4446s--were also announced and will be available only in the Asia-Pacific and Japan. The computers arrive at time when HP could really truly use a hit in the waning PC market. The company endured a disastrous Q3, with the company announcing plans to lay off another 2,000 employees, bringing the total number of eliminated positions to 29,000. The Personal Systems Group, which produces HP's PCs, bled profusely; with notebook sales down 12% and desktops down 6%, the division aggregately suffered a 10% decline in revenue. HP's potential resurgence relies more on Windows 8 than Thursday's new enterprise machines. In other announcements, the company has shown some of the next-gen flair that Dell, which also experienced a rough Q3, showed earlier in the week; a Windows-8 compatible touchscreen PC and planned tablet products are noteworthy examples. Until those new products materialize, the Compaq Pro 6305 and ProBook 4545s represent HP's latest attempt to revitalize a business it helped invent. Upgrading isn't the easy decision that Win 7 was. We take a close look at Server 2012, changes to mobility and security, and more in the new Here Comes Windows 8 issue of InformationWeek. Also in this issue: Why you should have the difficult conversations about the value of OS and PC upgrades before discussing Windows 8. (Free registration required.)
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