HP, Dell Quiet on WiMax for Laptop Computers

Hewlett-Packard and Dell, the PC vendor giants, did not announce notebooks to support WiMax on Oct. 8, the day Sprint launched the WiMax network in Baltimore. Acer, Lenovo and other OEMs announced several laptops that support WiMax. HP says it is still testing WiMax, while Dell says its Latitude E line of laptops, launched in August, is already WiMax-enabled.

While Lenovo, Acer and a host of other PC vendors are offering up WiMax options with their laptops, the world's two largest suppliers of PCs-Hewlett-Packard and Dell-are taking a wait-and-see attitude for the time being.

On Oct. 8, the same day Sprint and Intel in Baltimore rolled out Xohm, the first commercially available U.S. WiMax network, Lenovo and Acer were two of several top OEMs that were ready to offer their users access to the new network through their laptops. While that proved a promising sign for Sprint and Intel, the two biggest backers of WiMax technology to date, HP and Dell were notably absent.

While HP, the world's top PC maker, and Dell, the world's second-largest PC vendor, each make a number of laptops that carry Intel's WiMax technology through the chip maker's Centrino 2 mobile platform, neither company is currently prepared to offer that wireless broadband option to its customers.

While HP did not make official public announcements, the company did issue a statement saying its notebook designers were testing WiMax technology with its laptops, but that HP has no plans to offer it as an option for either consumers or corporate users at this time.

Click here for a list of WiMax-enabled notebooks from Acer, Toshiba, Lenovo and Asustek Computer.

In the statement, HP said WiMax in its current incarnation does not meet the needs of HP's customers. If HP customers want to use WiMax, the company suggests buying a separate WiMax-enabled PC card, ExpressCard or USB dongle.

"HP views mobile WiMax as an emerging technology and may integrate it into notebooks as the technology matures and the commercial availability of mobile WiMax networks increases," according to HP's written statement. "However, at this time it is premature to integrate mobile WiMax into HP notebooks due to the limited scope of commercially available networks and uncertainties around interoperability, roaming and quality of service."

Dell offered a less expansive explanation. While Dell has several notebooks in its Latitude E line that are WiMax-enabled, a company spokesperson said there are no further plans to offer the technology as an option just yet.