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HP reduces notebook prices

Hewlett-Packard has cut OmniBook prices up to 13 percent, the latest in a series of notebook price cuts this month and another sign of HP's desire to become a major notebook vendor.

Hewlett-Packard (HWP) cut prices on OmniBook notebook PCs by as much as 13 percent today, the latest in a series of notebook price cuts this month and another sign of HP's desire to become a major notebook vendor.

HP cut prices on OmniBook 5700 and 2000 series notebooks. The 5700 is the premier notebook line, while the 2000 is HP's value line.

The recently announced HP OmniBook 2000CS, which incorporates a 150-MHz Pentium processor with MMX technology, a 2GB hard drive, and a 12.1-inch LCD screen, has been reduced from $2,750 to $2,350, for an estimated selling price of under $2,300, according to the company.

The list price of the HP OmniBook 5700CTX notebook PC, a corporate performance notebook PC featuring a 166-MHz Pentium processor with MMX technology, 32MB of memory, and a 12.1-inch active-matrix LCD screen, has been reduced 12.5 percent to $4,080, for an estimated selling price of under $3,700.

The traditional hierarchy in the notebook world has been changing rapidly, according to observers and resellers. While profit margins in notebooks are far higher than the margins seen in desktop computers, vendors have recently been dropping prices fairly regularly. The introduction of 200-MHz and 233-MHz Pentium MMX processors for mobile computers from Intel in September has also served to force vendors to drop prices.

At the same time, Toshiba appears to be losing its market share to a wide variety of vendors, including HP and U.S. newcomers such as Fujitsu Computer Company.

In addition to the OmniBook price cuts, HP will also be updating parts of its product line in the near future. HP has said it will release notebooks based on the new Intel chip as well as an ultrathin notebook that was developed in conjunction with Mitsubishi, among other products.

Steve Cohan, president of Entre Computer Center, a Denver reseller, said that HP's design and pricing aggressiveness are raising the company's profile in the portable arena.

"HP notebooks have grown pretty extensively," he said. "They've always been behind other vendors in bringing new features and prices."

Cohan further added that brand loyalty has become more diffuse in notebooks. "Toshiba is not being asked for as much anymore. I see inroads by Hitachi and Fujitsu."

Further price cuts from other vendors are inevitable, commented Hanan Hamzeh, a principal at Tri-Pole/MicroAge, a Fountain Valley, California, reseller.

"It's the last quarter and everybody is starting to flush out their product," she said.