HP ruggedizes ultraportable laptops

Devices can easily switch between 3G networks

SAN FRANCISCO -- Hewlett-Packard Co. today introduced ultraportable laptops that can easily switch between wireless 3G broadband networks and withstand harsh environmental conditions.

HP's EliteBook 2530p ultraportable and EliteBook 2730p tablet PC have been tested to meet the U.S. military's standards to withstand harsh elements such as high altitude and temperatures, according to the company.

The laptops, which are targeted at business users, have also been designed to withstand impact from falls, said Keith LeFebvre, vice president and general manager at HP.

Gobi wireless technology from Qualcomm Inc. enables the laptops to seamlessly switch between 3G networks, LeFebvre said. With the technology, users can decide to change 3G networks without changing the hardware. 3G is a type of mobile broadband technology offered by cellular providers that allows people to access the Internet wirelessly.

All users have to do is change firmware, which changes the 3G radio. The chip supports EV-DO (Evolution Data Optimized) and HSUPA (High-Speed Uplink Packet Access) 3G technologies. In the U.S., users will be able to switch between 3G services from Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel and AT&T, LeFebvre said. Depending on the wireless technology, users will be able to switch between other 3G networks worldwide.

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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 laptops also have a feature to read business cards and convert them to text. Users can place a business card into a slot built into the front of a notebook, after which a webcam records its picture. Software extracts important contents, such as names, addresses and phone numbers, from the business card and converts it to text. The data is then transferred to a file.

The EliteBook 2530p comes with a 12.1-in. screen and weighs 3.19 lb., with prices starting at $1,499.

The EliteBook 2730p tablet PC comes with a 13.1-in. screen, weighs 3.7 lb. and is priced starting at $1,670.

The laptops run on Intel Core 2 Duo low-voltage or ultralow-voltage processors, support up to 8GB of RAM and support for additional wireless networking including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Storage options include hard drives or 80GB solid-state drives. The laptops come with Intel Corp.'s integrated graphics technology.

The devices run Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Vista operating system, and users will have the option to downgrade to Windows XP. The laptops will be available worldwide, according to the company.

HP is the world's top PC vendor, followed by Dell Inc., which is closing in on the top spot. During the second quarter of 2008, HP shipped 13.3 million units worldwide for an 18.9% market share, followed by Dell, which held a 16.4% market share, according to market research firm IDC.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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