HP chases business travelers with 3 new ultraportables

One laptop converts into a tablet PC, while another 3-lb. machine is ruggedized

Hewlett-Packard Co. is going after business travelers with three new ultraportable laptops introduced today.

The lineup, according to HP, includes a 3-lb. semi-rugged notebook, a machine that can convert from a notebook into a pen-based tablet, and an inexpensive Compaq laptop.

"It's good to see HP get into this market and bring some competition to Lenovo, Sony and Apple," said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group Inc. "Even better, it looks like they've really looked at what business travelers need and want, concentrating on keeping the size down and battery life up. Moreover, they did it while still providing a usable 12.1-in. screen size."

HP EliteBook 2730p
The HP EliteBook 2730p is an ultra-thin, convertible tablet that with a twist of the screen transforms from an ultra-light notebook PC into a pen-based tablet.

The HP EliteBook 2530p is the smallest and lightest HP laptop that contains a built-in optical drive. Weighing in at 3 lb., the machine sports an HP DuraCase made of a brushed, anodized aluminum combined with a magnesium alloy. The case is designed to pass military-standard durability tests for extreme temperatures, dust and humidity.

Olds said it's a good move for HP to come out with a small form-factor laptop that could take the beating that road warriors are sure to give it.

"It's good to see more-durable cases in these systems," he added. "They're made to travel and will certainly get bumped, bruised and bent on the road. While they don't have the absolute lowest weight, they do have some interesting feature combinations, including integrated optical drives, which some of the other ultraportables don't have."

The HP EliteBook 2730p is an ultrathin convertible machine that can go from a laptop to a pen-based tablet that is 1.11 in. thick — just by rotating the screen. New features, according to HP, include an integrated touchpad, tablet buttons and a jog dial. An optional ultraslim battery accessory offers up to 12 combined hours of battery life.

The new EliteBooks, which are slated to be available in early September, support Intel Core 2 Duo ultra-low-voltage or low-voltage processors. They also feature an optional integrated 2-megapixel webcam with business card reader software, and an integrated HP NightLight that shines on the keyboard to improve visibility in low light.

HP calls the third ultraportable that it released today a "value-priced" HP Compaq 2230s. The 4.07-lb. laptop has a 12.1-in. diagonal wide-screen display and a satin, reflective, black-on-black surface.

The 2230s laptop is available immediately.

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