Hewlett-Packard has unveiled a new series of laptops that seem tailor-made for the "post PC" era, with ultra-portable designs and access to a prepaid 3G mobile broadband service.
The unveiling dovetails with rumors of HP's plans to offer a larger set of cloud services, courtesy of a note accidentally posted (and later retracted) on the LinkedIn page of a company executive.
HP's new notebooks include the HP ProBook 5330m, which embraces the company's new brushed-aluminum design language and includes Beats Audio, and the HP EliteBook 2560p, whose 12.5-inch high-definition display and a relatively light weight (3.68 pounds) makes it the company's smallest and lightest model in the EliteBook line.
HP is also offering a 12.1-inch EliteBook 2760p "tablet PC," with a multitouch screen adapted for pen and finger use. The device weighs 3.9 pounds and features either an Intel i5 or i7 processor.
The company has also redesigned the HP Mini 210 with new colors. The laptop weighs less than 3 pounds and measures less than an inch in thickness, placing it in a similar category to netbooks. HP's Envy 14 line has been deeded Intel Core processors, USB 3.0 and advanced gesture support for its touch-pad (referred to as the "image-pad").
In a bid to expand the connectivity of its devices, HP is also introducing HP DataPass, a prepaid 3G mobile broadband services that is contract-free.
In March, newly minted CEO Leo Apotheker suggested that his company was on the verge of rolling out a new platform-as-a-service business for the cloud, including a new applications store. HP is also planning to import webOS, its mobile operating system acquired last year along with Palm, into a variety of devices ranging from tablets to PCs.
"The webOS is an unbelievably attractive piece of technology in that it can interconnect seamlessly a number of various devices," Apotheker told a gathering of analysts and media March 14. "It is simply an outstanding Web operating system."
On May 3, HP executive Scott McClellan apparently laid out further plans for the cloud on his LinkedIn profile, only to yank them soon afterwards-but not before the Register managed to grab a screen shot.
Those plans apparently include an "object storage" service that offers "cost, scale, and reliability without compromise," along with a cloud Hub for Website users and developers. Another service would offer "an innovative and highly differentiated approach to -cloud computing'-a declarative/model-based approach where users provide a specification and the system automates deployment and management."
This combination of robust cloud services, emphasis on a mobile operating system as the backbone of its device ecosystem, and ultra-thin (and potentially always-connected) products suggests that HP is anxious to embrace the perceived paradigm shift towards mobility as the tech world's center of gravity. Which sounds like HP is more anxious than ever to compete with somebody.