HP, Cingular to Offer Global Mobile Notebook

HP has partnered with Cingular to develop a new notebook computer with built-in global mobile broadband capabilities.

The HP Compaq nc6400 Notebook PC with integrated Cingular Wireless UMTS/HSDPA (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System/High Speed Downlink Packet Access)-based technology aims to let business professionals connect to corporate networks at broadband speeds in more areas — without being tied to a wireless hot spot. HP and Cingular Wireless will jointly market the new business notebook.

The goal is to help business customers stay connected to the people and information that’s important to them, said Carol Hess-Nickels, director of worldwide business notebook marketing in HP’s personal systems group. However, the announcement has generated skepticism in some quarters.

“What if I want to buy HP computers but I haveVerizon Wireless?” asked Burton Group Senior Analyst Mike Disabato. “Now you’ve increased the cost, complexity and the power consumption of this machine for something I can’t use. This is an extraordinarily bad idea,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Tri-Band Modem

HP and Cingular, the world’s largest wireless carrier, point to the advantages of the new notebook, which features a tri-band modem that supports data rates of up to 3.6 megabits per second in the United States and in many other countries.

It comes with dual antennas and Cingular’s communication manager to establish a wireless connection via the carrier’s 3G network.

“The good news is, it’s one less card you have to carry around and something you don’t have to configure,” Disabato conceded. “However, until we get to the point where I can tell the computer who my carrier is and the software can determine what type of network I need, then to me it’s marketing hype.”

HP touts the computer’s reach and speed. Cingular’s UMTS/HSDPA network is available in 145 major metropolitan areas, including 65 of the top 100 largest cities in 33 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. This mobile broadband network offers average download speeds of 400-700 kilobits per second.

A Look at the Hardware

The notebook also has other compelling features for the business market, maintains HP. It’s thin and light, and it offers a 14.1-inch diagonal widescreen display, an optional HP privacy filter that helps ensure the screen is visible only to the user, Intel Core 2 Duo processors and support of 3D graphics.

The nc6400 is Microsoft Windows Vista compatible. Additionally, it features HP’s suite of hardware features and software solutions that includes technologies such as integrated biometrics and digital accelerometers designed to enhance security.

The nc6400 Notebook PC with integrated Cingular Wireless BroadbandConnect is expected to be available in late December at a starting price of US$1,599. HP nc6400 customers can get monthly unlimited Cingular BroadbandConnect service for $59.99.

“Having the notebook tied in with GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) is good from the perspective that you can roam over 120 countries,” Disabato noted. “If you have business requirements that makes this a good thing for you, then by all means do it — but if you are starting from a green field, this is not the way to go.”

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