Monday, April 14, 2008

HP to offer UMPC Mini-Notebook with Linux

HP will shortly be offering an UMPC (Ultramobile PC), aimed at the education market. There will be two versions, one offered at the end of April, and another more expensive version in May:

HP releases its first Linux-powered laptop
[...] The HP Mini is another UMPC (Ultramobile PC). Unlike Asustek Computer's Eee PC and Everex's CloudBook, the HP Mini is the first UMPC to arrive from a top-tier system vendor.

Like the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child)'s XO Laptop and Intel's Classmate PC, the HP Mini is designed for the wear and tear of use by children. The 2.5-pound UMPC comes with an anodized aluminum shell that's designed to be sturdy. It also comes with "HP DuraKeys," a clear damage-resistant keyboard coating designed to help prevent chocolate-milk-induced system failures. It also includes the HP 3D DriveGuard, which uses a three-axis digital accelerometer chip to shut down the hard drive if it's dropped (or thrown, or kicked).

Besides the usual array of SLED software goodies, the system also includes educational software. Jim Mann, an HP technology strategist, credited Novell with putting together an excellent collection of educational software.

The PC itself comes in two different versions. Both models are powered by a 1.6GHz Via C7 processor. They also both have 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and an 8.9-inch display with 1280 by 768 resolution. They each also include a pair of USB ports and Ethernet port. The cheaper model, the one that's aimed directly at the education market, comes with 1GB of memory and a 120GB hard drive. This system, which should be available by the end of April, will retail for $499. The higher-end system comes with 2GB, a faster 120GB hard drive and a larger six-cell battery. This system will be available by May and list for $799, HP said.

HP has is going to offer it on it's HP 2133 Mini-Note PC, seen here with Windows Vista on the screen:

The Windows Vista version which is already available, is reviewed here:

HP 2133 Mini-Note PC
It didn't take long for PC makers to realize the gold mine ASUS struck with its Eee PC 4G. The Eee PC is a sleek, 2.2-pound ultraportable that costs less than $400—something the UMPC platform had promised but failed to deliver. Now, manufacturers are mobilizing to create an Eee PC "killer," so to speak. The HP 2133 Mini-Note PC ($749 direct) has the potential to be just that. It sports a sexy, 3-pound design, has features similar to the Eee PC, and offers a variety of operating systems to choose from. Even more compelling, however, is that this miniature device can be used by kindergarteners or top-level executives alike, and is affordable to most families with schoolchildren. My configuration was relatively expensive; others start as low as $499—a price that HP had to nail down in order for the Mini-Note to fly. [...]

Sounds intriguing! Although for that price you could buy a regular notebook computer with Vista, and install Linux over it or dual boot it with Vista. But this particular model of mini notebook is especially rugged and durable, and will have an appeal all it's own. I'll be watching the reviews, that's for certain.

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