HP announces massive launch of new laptops, desktops

Offerings include touch-enabled PC, DreamColor display and two ultra-mobiles

Hewlett-Packard today bombarded the market with a massive product launch that includes 17 new laptops, a touch-enabled PC and an innovative new display.

HP unveiled the bevy of products at its Connecting Your World media event in Berlin on Tuesday.

"This is more than a typical announcement from a tech vendor," said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group Inc. "Over the years, we've grown used to a company like HP dribbling out product enhancements, like 'Our magenta is now 30% more 'magent-ier' and things like that. HP's move today is bold and aggressive."

There is some risk to releasing so many new products at once, though, according to Olds.

"This kind of product dump can be risky in that any single offering can be lost in the noise," he noted. "For example, I'm sure that somewhere in the mix is a very inexpensive laptop or two. These boxes probably have some pretty good specifications and capabilities for a damn low price. However, doing a mass launch like this means HP has to pick and choose what to lead with, and 'We got cheap laptops' ain't the message today. On the other hand, a strategy of leading with the new whiz-bang stuff is a good way to get customers to take a look -- and then buy something else that maybe better fits their budget."

The new laptops include premium HP-branded machines, along with less-expensive Compaq offerings.

HP is also jumping on the emerging ultramobile bandwagon with the release of its Voodoo family of computers, which includes the Voodoo Omen desktop and the ultramobile Voodoo Envy 133 notebook. 

At the same time, the company also introduced six new HP Pavilion consumer-focused notebook PCs, and Compaq Presario laptop models.

As for desktops, HP showed off its new TouchSmart  family of PCs, which feature HP software designed to enable users to access applications with a swipe or tap of a finger -- without touching a mouse or keyboard. The computers run Intel Corp.'s Core 2 Duo processor, and include a wireless keyboard and integrated wireless LAN.

HP also released the HP DreamColor Display, a new LCD monitor that boasts a range of up to 1 billion colors in a 30-bit, LED-backlit display.

Olds noted that with a weakening economy, this onslaught of new products just might be a great marketing idea.

"With the economic weakness, retailers need fresh stuff to bring people in the door. HP's new stuff is a shot in the arm for them," explained Olds. "Also, in weak economic times, people tend to burrow. They're not traveling as much, delaying big purchases. What they typically do is buy more stuff that makes it more fun to hang around the house. HP's stuff fits directly into this trend."

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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