Update: HP readies EV-DO notebook with Verizon

Vendor follows trend toward putting built-in cellular network capability in notebooks

Hewlett-Packard (HP) plans to unveil a business notebook with an embedded chip that allows users to connect to Verizon Wireless's EV-DO (evolution - data only) network in the U.S., part of a new trend toward built-in wide-area networking capability in PCs.

The company will unveil the HP Compaq nc6140 on Thursday during an event at the 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show with executives from HP and Verizon, said Eric Brennan, director of business solutions for HP's personal systems group. HP joins fellow PC makers Dell and Lenovo Group in embracing cellular networks as an alternative for business users tired of searching for a Wi-Fi hotspot or an Ethernet cable.

"This starts to bring out the promise of corporate applications available anytime, anywhere," said Todd Bradley, executive vice president of HP's personal systems group, at the event.

Dell has announced plans to embed EV-DO and HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) chips into its notebooks, and Lenovo announced an HSDPA notebook Wednesday at CES in partnership with U.S. carrier Cingular Wireless. The idea is to give business users the ability to access the Internet from any place where they can get a mobile phone signal, Brennan said.

Verizon's EV-DO network provides download speeds between 400K bps (bits per second) and 700K bps depending on conditions, the companies said in press release. HSDPA networks offer similar speeds.

However, real-world speeds probably won't approach the advertised ones, as is the case with Wi-Fi networks. An HP product manager used a Web utility to measure the speed at which the nc6410 was downloading data from the EV-DO network, in a demonstration for reporters at HP's event. Within the walls of the White House Las Vegas, a function room just steps outside the Las Vegas Convention Center, the notebook downloaded data at about 200K bps and uploaded data at between 50K bps and 70K bps. Download speeds in other areas of Las Vegas averaged around 400K bps, the product manager said.

HP has no plans that it is willing to share regarding a notebook for Cingular's HSDPA network, which is just starting to come online in certain parts of the U.S., said Ted Clark, senior vice president and general manager for mobile computing. "But stay tuned," he said.

The nc6140 is available immediately on HP's Web site. It costs $1,399 with Intel's Pentium M 750 processor, a 15-inch display, a 40G-byte hard drive, 512M bytes of memory, a DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive, and integrated 802.11g/a Wi-Fi wireless in addition to the EV-DO chip. Monthly plans to access Verizon's network cost $59.99 for unlimited data access if you're a voice customer, and $79.99 if you're not.

Verizon will also have a daily access plan, where users can pay $15 to access the network for 24 hours, said John Stratton, vice president and chief marketing officer for Verizon.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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