HP pitches PCs for new Energy Star standard

Four months before federal regulators apply stringent new efficiency standards to desktop PCs, Hewlett-Packard Co. has tweaked three computers to qualify for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star 4.0 label.

The HP Compaq dc5700, dc5750 and dc7700 will help business users reduce energy costs, primarily by switching into sleep or idle modes sooner than current models and by using an 80% efficient power supply instead of the current range of 65%-to-75% efficiency, said Nancy Bowman, HP's commercial desktop product marketing manager for North America.

HP hopes the revamped computers will appeal to institutional IT managers who face a corporate requirement to meet efficiency standards, Bowman said. There are now about 80 desktop models listed in the EPA's Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) listing of "green" desktops that avoid toxic substances, are easily recycled and are energy efficient. But most of those desktops meet the EPA's current, lower standard, Energy Star 3.0.

In October, the agency said it would upgrade that standard for the first time since 2000 because 98% of all products in the marketplace met its requirements. To give the Energy Star badge more elite status, regulators raised the bar so it would include only the top 25% most efficient desktops, notebooks, tablets, workstations, low-end servers and game consoles. The new standard takes effect July 20 and upgrades to an even tougher, Tier 2 standard in 2009.

Many PC and chip vendors have found that building green electronics allows them to both be good citizens and to gain a marketing edge. Last Wednesday, Dell Inc. said it would expand its "Plant a Tree for Me" program, allowing all U.S.-based consumers and businesses to offset the carbon emissions of manufacturing and running their IT products by contributing through Dell's Web site to several environmental groups. Users can choose to cover the annual carbon impact of a U.S. citizen with $99 or donate $40 for a server, $6 for a desktop, $2 for a notebook or $1 for an ink-jet printer, Dell said.

Dell also plans to design several OptiPlex desktops, Latitude notebooks and Dell Precision workstations to meet the Energy Star 4.0 standard, said spokesman Jeremy Bolen.

In other initiatives, Toshiba America Information Systems Inc. said last week that it submitted select notebook models to the EPEAT list and opened a computer take-back program to encourage recycling. Toshiba said it will help keep computers out of landfills by offering cash for used, functional PCs, recycling non-Toshiba notebooks for a small fee and recycling its own brand products for free.

Also last week, Intel Corp. announced it would remove halogenated flame retardants from the packaging materials it used for its StrataFlash Cellular Memory (M18) products, a line of NOR flash memory units used in wireless handsets.

HP will charge $959 for a dc7700 with Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 80GB hard drive and Microsoft Corp.'s Windows XP Pro; $899 for the dc5700 with similar specifications; or $609 for a version with Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s Athlon chip.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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