Hewlett-Packard announced its ProBook laptop series April 28, a new line of business notebooks that strive to combine good looks, low pricing and professional-minded features that will appeal to cost-conscious users.
The ProBooks feature high-definition LED backlit display screens and a new keyboard layout that's said to be more spacious, spill-proof, and have raised keys that discourage crumbs and dirt from falling inside.
"It's got a very streamlined, clean look and feel. You don't see a lot of buttons," explained Carol Hess-Nickels, a director of marketing with HP. "We also kept the dropped hinge because it lets the panel sit lower, which makes it very comfortable to use on an airline fold-down table."
On the inside, the ProBooks offer optional HP Mobile Broadband, which is essentially 128-bit encryption combined with Qualcomm Gobi technology, for mobile broadband connectivity across different "geographies, technologies and carriers," as Qualcomm materials succinctly put it.
In short, Gobi eliminates the need for external PC cards, simplifies international roaming and can help to keep wireless budgets on track, since traveling workers don't need to pay for hotel Wi-Fi or other similar charges.
The ProBook line also offers a choice of Microsoft Windows operating systems-Vista Business, Home Basic or Home Premium 32, or Vista with a downgrade to XP Professional. FreeDos is also an option, as is Red Flag Linux, in China, and certain models offer the open-source Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11 OS-a first as a preinstall on an HP notebook-which offers a way to mingle Linux and Windows environments.
Price-sensitive users can also choose to use the Linux option exclusively.
HP's Professional Innovations suite of hardware and software features is also included, and among its features is one-button access to e-mail, calendar, tasks and contact information, using HP QuickLook 2 software.
Powered down your notebook, but then realized you needed a phone number in an e-mail, or a piece of data? With QuickLook 2, you can push the black button beside the power button, and within 10 seconds have access to applications and utilities.
Also a part of the Innovations Suite is an accelerometer on the hard drive, which parks the heads of the drive when it senses a fall, offering a degree of protection to the drive and its data should the notebook be dropped.
On the security front, all models offer HP SpareKey-which asks a series of questions in order to grant access to a password-forgetting user-and File Sanitizer and Disc Sanitizer, which uses a Department of Defense algorithm to permanently delete files, folders and identification information, offering peace of mind when it comes time to recycle the device.
Speaking of recycling, the notebooks are more than 90 percent recyclable or "recoverable," meaning the materials can be reused, instead of thrown away. The ProBook line has an EPEAT silver rating, is Energy Star qualified, doesn't contain mercury and can be switched into a low-power mode during periods of inactivity.
The lineup comprises the:
- HP ProBook 4410 and ProBook 4415, which come with a 14-inch diagonal display, an integrated optical drive, and optional Blu-ray and 2-megapixel Web cam. Users also have a choice of graphics controllers and either Intel (4410) or Advanced Micro Devices (4415) processors.
The 4410 and 4415 are available in Asia and Latin America, and are available in Noir or Merlot-the first time color has been introduced to an HP business notebook. Pricing for the Intel version begins at $699, and the AMD starts at $599.
- The HP ProBook 4510 and 4515 feature a 15.6-inch screen, and users have the option of HP Mobile Broadband and a choice of Intel (4510) or AMD (4515) processors. Pricing for the Intel version begins at $529, while the AMD version begins at $699.
- The HP ProBook 4710 comes with a 17.3-inch screen and includes the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4330, with up to 512MB of GDDR2 for video memory, and Intel Core 2 Duo processors. An HDMI port for HD displays is included. Pricing begins at $899.
Both the 17-inch and 15-inch models include keyboards with integrated numeric keypads. An HP USB 2.0 Docking Station-for audio, video and network connectivity, and up to four USB-connected devices at once-is also new for the series, retailing for $139.
The ProBooks announced today are part of the standard series, or s-series. Certain Compaq notebooks, currently part of a b-series, will fall under the ProBook distinction the next time they receive a refresh.
On Jan. 6, HP also introduced the Mini 2140, its latest addition to the very popular "netbook" category.
Editor's Note: Changes have been made to include new pricing information and the latest HP Mini model.