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Hitachi aims high

The company introduces a line of desktops and a revamped line of notebooks aimed at corporate users.

    Hitachi today debuted its first desktops for the U.S. market and revamped its line of corporate notebooks as part of a strategy to become known as a provider of high-end computers.

    Unlike a number of other PC manufacturers, Hitachi is eschewing the low end of the market

    VisionDesk 1330
    VisionDesk 1330
    and going straight for the executive-class customer. The new desktops are much smaller and more stylish than standard desktops and include such features as integrated flat-panel displays. Hitachi is also focusing on performance-level processors.

    "We don't intend to become a Dell or Compaq overnight. We want to raise the levels of desktop computing," said Anthony Kim, senior manager of product marketing for Hitachi, adding that the profit margins are much more attractive for high-end corporate systems.

    "When you talk about a low-price system, you're talking about a lower quality system designed to meet those price points. You sacrifice quality, and that's not what Hitachi's about."

    Hitachi's foray into desktop computing includes a new all-in-one system with an integrated flat-panel display, the VisionDesk 1330, for $2,599. The 1330 is an attractive option for cramped offices, Kim said. Approximately four VisionDesk 1330 systems can fit in the space of one mini-tower system with 17-inch monitor.

    Hitachi also introduced the

    VisionBook Traveler 600
    VisionBook Traveler 600
    micro-tower VisionDesk 2200--which is about the size of a 3-ring binder--for $1,299; and the mini-tower VisionDesk 3400, which starts at $1,999.

    "This is about Hitachi really taking the next step to becoming a full PC company, rather than just a notebook manufacturer," Kim said.

    In the portable space, Hitachi introduced a revamped Traveler, its mini-notebook that competes with Toshiba's Libretto and Sony's Vaio 505. These products generally weigh between 2 and 3 pounds, but often sacrifice functional keyboards and displays for portability. Hitachi's Kim admits that previous Travelers were hard to use, but insists that those problems have been addressed in the new Traveler 600.

    "The problem [with the previous Traveler] was that it was cool until people tried to use it. The keyboard was too small, the display was too small, and it didn't have enough power," Kim said. "Today we have come out with a better designed product."

    The Traveler 600 offers a larger keyboard and 10.4-inch active matrix display, instead of the previous 8.4-inch screen. Hitachi's mini-notebook weighs in at 2.9 pounds, not much more than the previous version, which weighed 2.8 pounds.

    "This doesn't compete with the Libretto--it blows it away," Kim asserted. "The Libretto has a smaller display, a smaller keyboard, and less power. Really, I don't know why anyone would want to buy one of those."

    Hitachi also introduced today the VisionBook 800, a desktop replacement notebook offering up to a 14.1-inch display and 300MHz Intel Pentium II processor, starting at $3,199, but also available in configure-to-order programs at retailers. The VisionBook 800 will also support Intel's next generation Pentium II processor, code-named Dixon, which is due out in February or March, Kim said.