I recently participated at the HP launch of their new brand of affordable notebook PCs, at the Karachi Avari, that merges business functionality with sophisticated design – the HP ProBook. The HP ProBook series joins the award-winning HP EliteBook series to form one of the most versatile business notebook portfolios in the industry.
The new HP ProBook family, is a low-cost business notebook designed specifically for small and medium businesses. Translation: this desktop replacement notebook has a good balance of performance, security, reliability and extras all at an affordable price.
Inspired by minimalism, the design of the new HP ProBook series combines matte and glossy surfaces while stripping out the extraneous, leaving only a stylish and clean look. The Probook is also distinguished by a choice of merlot or glossy noir finishes, a unique keyboard design and a set of professional innovations previously found only on higher-priced models.
The outer shell of the screen casing, like the rest of the notebook, is made of plastic. The lid is made of reflective, glossy plastic with the HP and ProBook logos printed in silver. The laptop screen housing it is a mixture of firm and flexible materials.
The full-size keyboard is a new design that HP has unveiled with the launch of the ProBook series. The keyboard provides extra spacing between the individual keys to help reduce typos and even includes a dedicated number pad (a major plus for businesses that use their computers for number crunching or data entry). Each key is relatively flat with a nice matte texture and the keys sit above a glossy black support frame. The support frame surrounding the keys is quite firm thanks to the design of the chassis which adds additional support for the keyboard. The only obvious area of flex in the keyboard is when you press on the number pad keys. Usability is the same as with traditional keyboards and the raised surface means fewer places for dirt and dust to hide making it easy to clean and more maintenance free than ever before.
HP Professional Innovations
HP Professional Innovations included on the ProBook s-series include:
1. HP QuickLook 2 software, which provides access to e-mail, calendar, task and contact information within seconds at the touch of a button.
2. The HP SpareKey feature addresses the hassle of forgotten passwords by using a sequence of three predetermined personal identification questions to gain immediate entry into the system.
3. For added data security, File Sanitizer for HP Protect Tools permanently deletes individual files, folders and personally identifiable information from the notebook, which also allows customers to recycle the notebook with confidence that their business data has been removed.
Pricing and availability
Estimated street pricing in Pakistan begins at a little over Rs.60,000. The glossy noir (black) option is available now and the merlot color option will be available from August.
The standard series (s-series) of the new HP ProBook models incorporate a mercury-free design, and features high-definition (HD) LED backlit displays in a choice of 13.3-inch, 14-inch, 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch diagonal widescreen sizes.
How Green Is Your Computer? Published Dawn, Images, July 13th, 2009
These days it’s hard to move anywhere without being urged to make ‘green’ changes in your lifestyle. To answer these consumer trends, computer manufacturers worldwide have embarked to align business concerns with the broader issue of greening the environment. There is
cause for concern. IT’s CO2 emissions have been estimated to be at 2 percent of the world’s total, thus the entire community is waking up to the challenge of sustainable development.
At the manufacturing level, leading firms such as HP especially are improving their processes, accounting for environmental impact, operational impact and end-of-life impact for their full range of products. They try to do this by minimizing harm ‘before’ use by employing cleaner, leaner sourcing and manufacturing techniques, by designing products that consume less energy and materials ‘during’ use and helping with reuse and recycling ‘after’ use. This is why the new devices (esp. based on Intel Atom Chipsets) are highly energy efficient and form factors across the board have been reduced greatly.
Corporations too are joining this trend, as being green serves the twin advantages of catering to consumer sentiments and business profitability. One way businesses are becoming greener e.g. are via using ‘thin-clients’. This is a setup where you have a low-power device on your desktop instead of a PC Processor box and all the work takes place at a central server or data center. This can take a lot of hassle out of desktop computing (and resulting maintenance, upkeep, etc), increases security (since all updates are at the center), is economical and requires minimal upgrades, since the average life-span of such a setup is around 8 years.
Another area enterprises are addressing is their servers. It has been estimated that worldwide most servers never run beyond 30% of their capacity and though more powerful than desktop machines, this is not utilizing them for their full potential. To address this challenge, virtualization software has been introduced which allows centers to double the amount of work done by the same servers. This allows businesses to halve the total number of devices and decrease environmental impact as well.
Green IT is also taking place at home e.g. a standard PC can consume around 350 watts (that’s ~1800 watts for 6 hours usage daily @ a minimal Rs. 7.5 per KW). With increasing awareness & electricity prices, consumers are now investing in products which use
less power, give off less heat and are recyclable or made of renewable materials like bamboo. These include new forms such as netbooks, ‘All In One PCs’, Ultra-portables and ECO PCs (less than 100 Watts consumption). There’s also a side benefit to this. Unlike traditional devices, these products fit anywhere in the home.
Net Result Published Dawn, Sci-tech, Jul 5th, 2009
Pakistan was recently host to two occurrences that herald an oncoming revolution in how we will compute and communicate with our world. One was the launch of the new line of HP MINI Netbooks (just recently announced in May at the ‘Touch the Future, Now’ conference in Beijing) which aim to bring in a new level of portability & operability to the Pakistani user. The other was the launch of the Nokia flagship Nokia N97 ‘Mobile Computer’. Both products are trying to satisfy the same need “to have something small, portable, and inexpensive (mostly) with you that is always connected” to the Internet.
Netbook PCs are miniature versions of notebooks that keep cost to a minimum. The new ones come with 10.1 inch screens, 1 GB RAM, 160 GB HD and enough power to hit a sweet spot for both consumer and business users. Their main attraction is their low price (less than PKR 30,000), followed by full QWERTY keyboards that approach (if not quite match) standard laptop arrangements, whilst their portability and ability to run most common applications mean that many people can leave a heavier notebook behind.
On the other hand, Smartphones, defined as phones which run complete operating system software and provide a standardized interface and platform, have offered mobile office applications for years including tasks such as document editing, e-mail, and web browsing. These now promise to usher in an era of mass-personalization, adjusting to the world around us, helping stay us consistently connected to the people and things that matter most.
The battle for the supremacy of being the new client-side interface to the web thus begins soon as netbooks and smartphones start replacing traditional PCs in homes and offices. Here let us the clarify what’s the fuss about towards becoming the most popular device to connect to the net – the device with the highest number of users will attract application developers from both consumer & business segments, gaming companies, advertising revenue, entertainment content, data pipes, etc. It will thus create the digital ecosystem around which we will work, live and play and massive markets & revenues for the companies which own these devices.
This however is not an easy task. The Pakistani data market is still in infancy stages. We have less than 300,000 broadband connections, whilst on the mobile side, voice still accounts for over 92% of the revenues of local mobile operators and data services are currently growing at only 2% per year. Combine this with low literacy, lack of local content development, lack of broadband awareness campaigns, QOS levels and provision of low interest loans for purchase of computers and these affect the development of mobile computing in the country adversely. Even in face of these adversities however, desk-bound PCs stand to lose their dominance as the main access point for the net –fast, since all the trends point to a mobile environment dominating our part of the world and soon.
The first trend is the push by wireless broadband companies and mobile network operators. The WiMax companies hope to provide ubiquitous coverage throughout Pakistan as close as 2011, whilst a leading company is already thinking of adding net-books plans to their existing offerings, plunging the cost of a netbook further. Mobile carriers are also actively pushing for consumers to start using data plans, driving rates to as low as Rs. 500 per month for unlimited data usage.
Secondly as compared to the current total of 5 million PCs not all which are net enabled, there are around 5 million phones in Pakistan which are EDGE/GPRS enabled and these are growing at a brisk pace as income levels across Pakistan rise, whilst cost of hardware falls. Local operators are now expecting their revenues from data to grow, as the subscriber’s appetite for mobile based content has been increasing every year. Going beyond a ring tone, wallpaper, SMS or a theme, they are now on a look out for great content and applications. One challenge which currently restricts this from taking off however is the absence of standards.
Optimizing mobile applications for different OS and broad range of mobile devices with varying screen sizes and versions remains the biggest problem for both the mobile content developers and distributers. However, an upcoming step taken in this direction is the new Google’s Android platform that unites the players of mobile ecosystem such as wireless operators, handset manufacturers and developers all at one place. Android’s software stack will provide developers a complete access to handset capabilities and tools that will enable them to build more compelling and innovative applications for the mobile consumers. It’s noticing this trend that Nokia has made Symbian Open Source and hopes to counter Google’s influence in the manner.
Thirdly, SMEs, the over 1 million small companies in Pakistan, are starting to push the trend towards cloud and mobile computing, unlocking increases in productivity that a mobile revolution promises. These businesses desire the benefits of enterprise solutions to grow further, but simply can’t afford the custom-based solutions common to large companies because there aren’t enough users to spread the cost of developing proprietary apps. However, provide a smart-phone with a built in web-browser like ‘Opera’ to each of the employees and suddenly cost-effective mobile applications are very much possible for the sales force, field employees, in store employees, for fleet management purposes, finance, operations management and more. With the power of the full web available today and with business apps and web front-ends for ERP, CRM and other business critical systems on a mobile phone, the flexibility and the economies to propel Pakistani small businesses into the digital age are very much possible. Similarly, by deploying a VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) technology — which runs the local machine’s desktop from a remote server – businesses can use a netbook for everything, including accessing content stored on other machines, thereby decreasing the costs of IT hardware and improving productivity no end.
Fourthly, we have seen the digital convergence in our country which is bringing together the separate worlds of audio, video, data and voice communication services, giving control of the entertainment and media content to the consumer. Already today (to a limited extent) we can access the services and content (e-mail, television) using different terminals over different types of networks. Thus the borders between fixed-line and wireless mobile networks are disappearing.
Looking five years out, with netbooks continuing to improve in quality with better graphics abilities, these will move towards true laptops in features whilst connected to faster data networks whilst smart phones dominating the landscape will marry the best features and capabilities of the computing and communications worlds, which will transform the user experience, bringing incredible changes to what we call our life.