HP pitches Mini-Note at business, education

HP pitches Mini-Note at business, education

HP says its new Mini-Note ultramobile PC is a chance for resellers to target business executives and the education market.

Next month the vendor will launch two configurations of its answer to Asus’ Eee PC locally, but says the company’s strategy is very different to that of its competitors.

“[The Eee PC is] the obvious competition, but we have a very different go to market. The Eee is almost a disposable product. It has plastic construction, a small keyboard and small screen,” says HP business notebooks market development manager Simon Molloy.

Although there has already been interest from consumers, the main target audience is business users, Molloy says, adding that executives may buy it as a second notebook to take travelling.

He admits schools are also looking at the Eee PC, but says the education market could yield high sales of the Mini-Note once HP breaks in.

“The education market is the volume market, but it’s also the hardest one to crack,” says Molloy. “Business could come first. The Ministry of Education had a look [at the Mini-Note] and were impressed, but mystified how to get it into schools.”

Asus Australia and New Zealand managing director Ted Chen says it is vital for his company, and the Eee, to keep one step ahead with new competition such as the Mini-Note.

He says solid state drive technology is one of the Eee’s advantages, adding next-generation features such as an 8.9-inch screen, a webcam and 1GB of memory while maintaining a weight below 1kg, are responses to customer feedback.

Price will remain a differentiator for the Eee, says Chen. “Following the 7-inch version, which launched at $599, we have managed to encompass all the above end-user requests, while still keeping the price attractive.”

With the Mini-Note, HP says it has focused on ease of use, reliability and security, and has included features it usually pitches at businesses. Molloy adds the machine is also designed to be rugged, durable and tamper-proof to cater for the student market.

The 2133 Mini-Note has an 8.9-inch, anti-scratch LCD screen (1280x768 pixels), and a full QWERTY keyboard, which HP says is about 92 percent the size of a standard full-size keyboard. The keyboard is spill resistant.

Made from aluminium, it weighs 1.19kg at entry level and has dimensions of 25.5x16.5x2.7cm.

A three-cell battery is standard, with an optional six-cell, while OS options comprise Vista Home Basic, XP Pro (with a Vista licence for future upgrades) and possibly Linux in future.

HP says it chose Via’s C7M processor because of the latter’s focus on energy use reduction, and because it is available at a lower price point. The standard configuration will offer a 1.6GHz processor.

There is also a built-in VGA webcam, one USB port, integrated wireless A/B/G or optional B/G wireless LAN, and Bluetooth.

However, there is no modem or built-in optical drive. Molloy says HP is currently offering a multi-bay drive for $295, but is considering offering other drive options.

Configurations include 120GB and 160GB hard drives, with the entry-level model at $999 and a higher speced model at $1299, with a faster hard drive at 7200RPM and double the RAM. An 80GB solid state drive flash drive will be optional, but could add more than $1000 to the price.

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