Hewlett-Packard on Tuesday introduced a line of inexpensive small business notebooks that offer a choice between Windows or Linux operating systems.
The ProBook s-series is HP's new mainstream business laptop brand, replacing the Compaq line. However, the Compaq brand will still be used on some PCs.
Starting as low as $529, the ProBooks combine business functionality with a number of consumer features, such as high-definition graphics and Blu-ray drives. Buyers also have the option of Intel or Advanced Micro Devices processors.
The laptops are available with Windows Vista, which can be downgraded to Windows XP. In addition, buyers can choose Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11 as an alternative to the Microsoft platform. It's the first time HP has offered preinstalled Linux on a mainstream business laptop.
The laptops are available with 14-, 15.6-, and 17.3-inch screen sizes and come in either a glossy black finish or "merlot," which is a darker red. The latter is only available on the 14- and 15.6-inch notebooks. Some models also are available with Qualcomm's Gobi technology, which is capable of connecting to different mobile broadband networks and mobile operators.
The ProBooks have several HP-developed features, such as the QuickLook 2 software, which provides access to e-mail, calendar, task, and contact information in seconds without having to wait to boot up the whole system. Other features include SpareKey, which provides the option of answering a sequence of three personal identification questions to access the system. This option is useful when users forget their passwords.
The latest laptop line followed HP's release last June of the lightweight EliteBook brand for business travelers.
Specific models include the ProBook 4410s and 4415s, which are both 14-inch models; and the 4510s and 4515s, which come with either 15.6- and 17.3-inch screens and include integrated numeric keypads.
Finally, The 4710s is a 17.3-inch model made for more graphic-intensive uses. The laptop includes AMD's ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4330 graphics with up to 512 MB of GDDR2 for video memory. The system is available with Intel's latest Core 2 Duo processors and also comes with an HDMI port for connecting to HD displays and an integrated numeric keypad.
The laptops are available in black. Merlot models are scheduled to ship in June. HP also offers a USB 2.0 docking station as an accessory for the ProBook line for $139.
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