HP Takes Aim at Deep-Pocketed Gamers With Blackbird 002 PC

Just in time for the start of the holiday shopping season, HP has introduced a slew of new products, including a PC specially designed for gaming.

Called the HP Blackbird 002, it is the first HP personal computer bearing VoodooPC’s distinctive stamp after HP purchased the high-end gaming PC maker last year.

Design elements include an aluminum chassis and cast-aluminum foot. There is a removable side panel, open BIOS, and interior and back panel LED lighting so gamers can get inside the machine for performance tuning. It also features full-system liquid cooling to keep itself running cool.

A ‘Beautiful’ Machine

Simply put, said Bob O’Donnell, an analyst with IDC, “it is an absolutely stunning machine, both on the outside and the inside. It is a feather in the cap of HP that it has been able to create such a beautiful design,” he told TechNewsWorld. “HP clearly wanted to make a statement that it can combine its computing smarts with VoodooPC’s expertise in gaming.”

Limited-edition HP Blackbird 002 Dedication Edition units will be on store shelves starting Sept. 15. These will feature a pre-set performance configuration, side panels and free games. In October, customers will also be able to configure their own HP Blackbird 002. Depending on configuration, pricing will range from approximately US$2,500 to $7,100.

New Category

The Blackbird 002 is emblematic of a larger trend in the PC industry — that is, an increasing level of specialization among manufacturers, O’Donnell noted. “Even though PCs remain general-purpose devices, we are seeing more emphasis placed on systems designed for a specific purpose such as gaming,” he said.

Currently, IDC distinguishes 15 subcategories for desktops and notebooks, of which gaming is not included. While the PC market is clearly a mature one, new buying patterns are emerging that should support such specialized machines, he said. “More people are buying multiple PCs for different purposes. It can be easy to justify having a computer for video work or graphic design and a separate one for gaming,” especially as price points continue to drop.

An Array of Launches

HP also introduced other changes in its product lineup. It has expanded its iPAQ handheld portfolio — which now counts more than 55 products in all — and made generally available the HP MediaSmart TVs and servers.

“HP has what we believe to be the most complete and compelling lines of PC products in the commercial, consumer and digital home segments,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst with the Enderle Group. “From the standpoints of user experience, industrial design and performance, they bracket these markets with attractive products that make it fun to shop for technology again.”

The additions to the iPAQ lines represent the largest expansion the company has made at one time. New products include:

  • iPAQ 900 Series Business Messenger – A 3G phone with QWERTY keyboard;
  • iPAQ 600 Series Business Navigator – A two-in-one 3G phone and navigation device;
  • iPAQ 300 Series Travel Companion – A handheld GPS device for business and personal travel featuring graphics acceleration and available 3-D maps;
  • iPAQ 200 Series Enterprise Handheld – A large-screen PDA with WiFi designed to run a range of business applications;
  • iPAQ 100 Series Classic Handheld – A handheld featuring a big screen and simple synchronization with personal content and WiFi connectivity;
  • Enterprise Mobility Suite – Provides mobile device management capabilities;
  • iPAQ Custom Touch – Small lot iPAQ customization preloads iPAQ devices with custom applications, themes and settings for enterprise customers;
  • iPAQ location-based services – A Web destination where users can personalize their trip plans, map content and update device software;
  • Total Care – A suite of services to help iPAQ customers design, manage and implement business mobility;
  • iPAQ Mobile Broadband Connect – Provides access to the Internet on an HP notebook or PC through a tethered iPAQ 3G phone for high-speed mobile broadband connectivity.

HP’s new MediaSmart TVs and entertainment PCs include:

  • MediaSmart TVs – New 42- and 47-inch HP MediaSmart TVs that merge the PC and the TV to wirelessly stream digital photos, music and videos stored on a PC onto a high-definition LCD display.
  • MediaSmart Server – Powered by the Windows Home Server platform and AMD Live, the HP MediaSmart Server provides a central location for movies, photos, music and documents through any Internet-connected PC.
  • Pavilion Elite m9000 Desktop PC – Billed as a high-end home entertainment machine, it offers 3-D graphics, video playback and a wireless connection.

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