Green HP rp5700 desktop strikes EPEAT gold

HP raises the eco-bar with energy-efficient desktop system designed for long life and easy recycling

HP raises the ecobar with energy-efficient desktop system designed for long life and easy recycling

Green HP rp5700 desktop strikes EPEAT gold
Sowing the seeds for a new crop of green desktops, HP announced this week the first PC on the market to achieve EPEAT (Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool) gold status.

EPEAT-registered products are designated as "bronze," "silver," or "gold," depending on the number of environmental features they possess, such as reduced levels of hazardous materials, improved energy efficiency, and ease of upgrade and recycle.

Aimed at general business users in industries such as retail, health care, banking, manufacturing, and distribution, the HP's rp5700 Business Desktop PC packs some nifty ecofriendly features.

Among them, it comes with a standard 80 percent efficient power supply; most PCs on the market settle on 65 percent. That extra efficiency means lower electrical usage as well as less heat, all of which contributes to cost savings. (I hope vendors start making them standard elements in their systems -- not just the ones designed or marketed as green.)

Another cost saver: The hardened systems have a five-year lifecycle, compared to the standard 12- to 18-month lifecycle of typical PCs, according to HP. That means less turnover as well as fewer administrative headaches. "Companies can have 10 to 12 different software configurations they're trying to manage, based on different chip sets. The longer they can hold onto a product, the greater the TCO is for them," says Lesley Fagg, worldwide product marketing manager at HP.

Interestingly, the rp5700 is built on HP's rp5000 PoS (point of sales) systems, which were originally aimed at the retail market. However, they garnered interest in other verticals, which is what inspired HP to create this business desktop version.

The systems are for organizations that "do not have complex computing environments. The assumption is that they are using these PCs more for tasks that are repetitive in nature. They don't need latest and greatest technology; they need something that will last a long time. They care about about longevity and stability," says Fagg.

Built on the Intel Q963 Express chipset, the system supports legacy Windows 2000 as well as XP Pro and Windows Business Vista 32-bit, so companies that are content with an older iteration of Windows can stick with it.

The small-form-factor system also has a tool-less chassis design, which makes both maintenance and recycling easier. Speaking of form factor, the systems are built with 95 percent recyclable components, according to HP. The plastic components are made, on average, of at least 10 percent post-consumer recycled plastics, and the outer packaging contains at least 25 percent post-consumer recycled cardboard.

Like other PCs that have recently made it to the market, both from HP and Dell, only certain configurations of the rp5700 meet the Energy Star 4.0 standard, and I remain curious whether any of those ES 4.0 configs are equipped to deliver the "full" Vista experience, including Aero and good performance running basic apps.

Frankly, when I look at the two preconfigured systems on the HP site that come with Vista Business 32, or when I try the Configure and Buy option, it's not clear whether the system I choose meets ES 4.0 of not, nor whether I can take full advantage of Vista. I had similar problems on Dell's site looking for its ES 4.0 configurations.

Interestingly, the fine print at the bottom of the ordering page notes, "Not all Windows Vista features are available for use on all Windows Vista Capable PCs. All Windows Vista Capable PCs will run the core experiences of Windows Vista, such as innovations in organizing and finding information, security, and reliability. Some features available in premium editions of Windows Vista -- like the new Windows Aero user interface -- require advanced or additional hardware."

To HP's credit, the company says it is working "on an update to the online configurator that will display which systems run Vista and meet Energy Star or EPEAT criteria."

One other thing: HP alluded to an interesting optional feature for the rp5700 in its product announcement: "a solar renewable energy source as an alternative power choice." Turns out that is the Solar PowerPac II, which, when charged, can provide up to 600 watt-hours of power for small loads.

Green HP rp5700 desktop strikes EPEAT gold
One other thing: HP alluded to an interesting optional feature for the rp5700 in its product announcement: "a solar renewable energy source as an alternative power choice." Turns out that is the Solar PowerPac II , which, when charged, can provide up to 600 watt-hours of power for small loads.

However, the PowerPac seems a bit unwiedly, measuring 14.8 inches tall, 15.6 inches wide, and 12.3 inches deep, and weighs 60 pounds. (It has a 38-inch handle and wheels, so you can cart it around.) The solar-panel kits starts at 75 watts, measures 21 inches by 47 inches, and weighs 16.5 pounds. I'm not sure how practical that would be for most companies, especially with a price tag of $1,325. Anyone out there have thoughts on the utility of this kind of unit?

For more information about the HP rp5700, go to HP's Web site.

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