Hewlett-Packard is expanding its lineup of small PCs as it looks to push back at the growing popularity of Chromebooks with a pair of low-cost, energy-efficient micro systems that run Microsoft’s Windows OS.
At the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Jan. 5 in Las Vegas, the tech giant unveiled the Pavilion Mini Desktop and Stream Mini Desktop, two PCs that can easily fit in the palm of the hand and are designed to give users the same high performance and affordability as Chromebooks that run Google’s Chrome OS, which is seeing increasing demand in such areas as education and the home.
The systems also are part of an onslaught of computers that a broad array of OEMs—including Lenovo and Acer—are showing off at CES as it gets under way this week.
HP is in the process of breaking into two separate companies, including one—which will be called HP Inc.—that will sell PCs and printers. Company officials have said that PCs will continue to be an important space, despite the declining sales in the global market in recent years, a decline that has significantly lessened in recent quarters.
HP has been aggressive in developing new form factors, such as the Sprout, which combines such features as a 3D scanner and a projector with a PC. With the Pavilion and Stream mini desktops, HP is looking to extend its reach in the market for smaller systems. HP is no stranger to this space—it has its own line of Chromebooks as well as an Android-based system, part of the company’s larger strategy to offer customers whatever they want.
“The desktop tower PC continues to be a focal point in the home for sharing, creating and entertaining,” Mike Nash, vice president of product management for consumer personal systems at HP, said in a statement. “The HP Pavilion and HP Stream Mini Desktops deliver the benefits of a traditional desktop PC in a package that looks good sitting on a desk and is small enough to fit into an entertainment center.”
The Pavilion Mini runs Windows 8.1 and can be powered by a range of Intel processors up to the Core i3. It’s 2.06 inches tall and weighs 1.6 pounds, and offers up to 1TB of storage and 8GB of memory. There’s support of two displays via DisplayPort and High-Definition Multimedia Interface- (HDMI-) compatible ports. It uses up to 45 watts of power—the typical tower PC will use as much as 250 watts—and includes built-in 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth.
The Stream Mini is the latest addition to the Stream lineup of systems that HP introduced last year. It offers a 32GB solid-state drive (SSD) and two years of 200GB of OneDrive Storage from Microsoft. Buyers also get a $25 gift card for the Windows Store, Microsoft’s app store.
Both systems will be available in the United States beginning Jan. 14 for starting prices of $179.99 for the Stream Mini and $319.99 for the Pavilion Mini.
HP Offers Mini Windows PCs as Chromebook Alternatives
For its part, Lenovo at the show on Jan. 5 unveiled the latest additions to its ThinkPad portfolio, including the newest ThinkPad X1 Carbon, a 14-inch Ultrabook. The third generation of the system, at less than 2.9 pounds, is lighter than its predecessors, comes with longer battery life and is powered by Intel’s latest 5th Generation 14-nanometer Core processors.
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon will be available this month starting at $1,249. The latest generation of the system demonstrates Lenovo’s drive to stay atop the list of the world’s PC vendors despite its efforts in other areas, according to Chairman and CEO Yang Yuanqing, who noted that the company has sold 100 million ThinkPads since buying IBM’s PC business in 2005.
“When we acquired IBM’s PC business, we made a promise to not just protect the ThinkPad franchise, but to make it even better, even stronger,” he said in a statement. “Now, even as Lenovo expands into mobile devices, servers, and ecosystem and cloud computing, ThinkPad will remain at the core of our strategy and the heart of our business.”
Acer officials on Jan. 3 announced the Chromebook 15, the first Chromebook on the market with a 15.6-inch display that is powered by Intel’s 5th Generation Core i3 and Celeron chips. Chromebooks—most of which have screens no larger than 13.3 inches—have become an important part of Acer’s efforts to grow its PC business; the company has about a 40 percent share of the market, according to Gartner analysts.
Demand for Chromebooks continues to grow, according to analysts. In November 2014, IHS DisplaySearch analysts predicted that Chromebooks would make up 5 percent of notebook PC shipments worldwide by the end of 2014 and that they could reach 12 percent by the end of this year.
“A lower total cost of ownership and the fact that they are very easy to work with and access the Web with are some reasons Chromebooks are becoming more popular,” Hisakazu Torii, vice president of Japanese TV market research at DisplaySearch, told eWEEK at the time. “Of course, the PC prices are low and there is a volume discount for commercial organizations and schools, and they offer easier management by corporate IT teams.”
Acer officials said several Chromebook 15 models will be available with either a 16GB or 32GB solid-state drive (SSD), and either 2GB or 4GB of memory, with prices in the United States starting at $249.99.