HP highlights mobility in new products

With a flurry of new product and service announcements on Sunday, Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) used the World Telecom 2003 conference and exhibition in Geneva to show enterprises, network operators and other IT partners that mobility is a top priority.

"Every physical analog process will become digital, virtual and mobile," said Carly Fiorina, HP's chairman and chief executive officer, in a speech at the telecommunications event, which is organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), an agency of the United Nations (UN). At HP, she added, the focus is not just on connectivity, but also on the "experience people can have on how wireless technology can make their lives better, richer, more productive and more fun."

Fiorina did not directly comment on HP's mobile vision for the future, instead zeroing in on new products that enterprises and network operators can use now to improve their operations. Bluetooth and wireless LAN (WLAN) technologies play big roles in many of these products.

HP used the Geneva event to announce the iPaq Pocket PC h4150, which it claims will be the thinnest and lightest Pocket PC on the market to include Bluetooth and WLAN (based on the 802.11b standard) connectivity. It also introduced the iPaq Pocket PC h4350, featuring an integrated backlit keyboard in addition to the wireless capabilities. Both products include enhanced security technologies, such as support for WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), LEAP (Lightweight Extensible Authentication Protocol) and 802.1x.

Customers can purchase the iPAQ h4150 online now for US$449; the h4350 is due out in November at a price of $499.

HP also launched a redesigned Tablet PC TC1100, which offers wireless connectivity via Bluetooth and WLAN based on the 802.1a, b and g standards. The tablet incorporates Intel Corp.'s low voltage Pentium M processor and is due to begin shipping in mid-November at a starting price of $1,849.

On the PC front, HP rolled out new notebooks and a mobile workstation, with all of the products also equipped with Bluetooth and WLAN supporting 802.1a, b and c standards, as well as the latest security standards, such as Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA). Its nc6000 and nc8000 businesses notebooks and nw8000 portable workstation also feature HP's ProtectTools array of security systems.

Security is a critical issue for enterprises that recognize the advantages of mobilizing their workforces but are worried about the risk of exposing their networks to intruders, said Alex Gruzen, senior vice president and general manager of HP's mobile computing and personal systems group.

"Embedded in these new products are some new hardware and software security technologies that provide enhanced protection against unauthorized use," he said. "We're working very hard on security."

Estimated U.S. pricing starts at $1,649 for the nc6000 and $2,049 for the nc8000, while pricing for the mobile workstation starts at $2,999. All three products are immediately available.

HP also announced a string of new mobile imaging and printing systems, including a variety of printers with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities. A new HP software platform, the Mobile Printing Application Software for Series 60 Imaging Phones, allows Bluetooth-enabled Series 60 phones from Nokia Corp. to print to HP printers. HP anticipates availability of the software on Monday.

For the network carrier market, HP launched in Geneva its cx2600 Integrity server, which it claimed is the first 64-bit Itanium platform aimed specifically at carriers and other telecommunication service providers. The server, which supports multiple operating systems including Linux, is designed to carry heavy loads in carrier networks. No pricing was available.

In addition to several other carrier service announcements, including a Wi-Fi roll-out program for Telecom Italia SpA, HP revealed development work on mobile streaming technology, in collaboration with Japan's NTT DoCoMo Inc. The technology will help carriers operating mobile broadband networks measure loads and reallocate traffic more efficiently.

"With this technology, for instance, content can be adapted to a device to reduce transmission loads," Gruzen said. "If a device has a small screen, then the minimum amount of data needed for that device is sent."

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