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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.