Are the New ProBooks from HP the Death Knell for Netbooks?

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print

HP’s new ProBook series of notebook computers pile on the features, without piling on the costs.

Those selling netbook computers may want to reconsider their sales strategy, thanks to HP. The company rolled out a new line of notebook computers aimed at cost-conscious business users, which combine features, performance and low prices together in an attractive package.

Netbook buyers will be most interested in the HP ProBook 4415, which has a list price of $599, but will probably cost significantly less when discounts are applied. The 4415 will come with a 14-inch display, optical drive, webcam and an AMD processor.  Along with Windows Vista and Windows XP, HP will offer ProBooks with Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11 pre-installed, perhaps lowering costs even further.

HP also bundles in the company’s Professional Innovations suite of hardware and software features, which includes one-button access to e-mail, calendar, tasks and contact information, using HP’s QuickLook 2 software. With QuickLook 2, users can push a black button beside the power button, and within 10 seconds have access to applications and utilities.

HP also aims to enhance security for the mobile worker with SpareKey, a utility that helps users recover lost passwords (ensuring password use) and File Sanitizer and Disc Sanitizer, which uses a Department of Defense algorithm to permanently delete files, folders and identification information.

The ProBooks are more than 90 percent recyclable or "recoverable," meaning the materials can be reused, instead of thrown away. The ProBook line has an EPEAT silver rating, is Energy Star qualified, doesn’t contain mercury and can be switched into a low-power mode during periods of inactivity.

Of course, the sweet spot for Netbooks is in the $300 range and users can get quite a bit of functionality for such a small price. The ProBook 4415 is more expensive, larger and heavier than the typical netbook, but can do so much more for a small price premium. If HP can push prices down a little further and perhaps deliver a model with a 12-inch display, then netbook manufacturers ought to start worrying a little more. Until then, netbooks may be safe from HP’s charge into low-cost notebook systems.


Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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