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HP adds to its small-business lineup

Hewlett-Packard brings out a new notebook PC and several new server models, as computer makers court the potentially lucrative affections of small businesses.

Hewlett-Packard's small-business push got a little bigger Thursday with the introduction of new computers.

A new notebook PC and several new server models join HP's existing range of products and services aimed at small businesses.

Although the individual transactions involved are relatively diminutive, sales to small businesses have captured the attention of HP and other manufacturers, including Dell Computer, IBM and Gateway, which see the potential for major gains in their customer base.

Those companies offer a number of small-businesses servers, desktop and notebook computers, and related services, as well as frequent promotions, all aimed at convincing the proprietors of smaller companies to buy from them rather than another a big-name computer maker or a smaller, more local PC builder. The hope is to earn business from a larger number of smaller accounts, and to forge early relationships with companies that may one day grow to be much larger.

Dell, for instance, offers products like its Dimension desktops and Inspiron notebooks as well as its PowerEdge servers to small businesses, often at a discount from prices offered to consumers or larger businesses. Gateway is offering aggressive prices--starting at $399--on its servers for small businesses.

HP's newest small-business products include the HP Compaq nx9010 notebook PC and models in the HP Server tc2120 and HP ProLiant ML300 product lines.

The nx9010 will start at $1,099 with a 2GHz Intel Celeron chip, 15-inch screen, 256MB of RAM, a 30GB hard drive and a combination CD burner/DVD drive, according to HP's small business Web site. With an upgrade to a 2.66GHz Pentium 4, 512MB of RAM and a 60GB hard drive, the price rises to $1,549, the site shows.

The notebook uses an all-in-one design, incorporating a desktop processor and fixed floppy and optical drives, allowing it to more easily replace a desktop. It is similar to IBM's latest small-business notebook, the ThinkPad G40, which was designed to catch the interest of companies looking to move from desktops to notebooks.

Meanwhile, HP's new small-business servers offer relatively low starting prices.

The ML300 family includes a wide range of models. An ML310 fitted with a 2.53GHz Pentium 4, 256MB of RAM and a 40GB hard drive sells for $1,048 with a one-year warranty, according to the company's Web site. A new ML330 model offers a 2.4GHz Xeon processor, 256MB of RAM and a 36GB SCSI hard drive (the disc spins at 10,000 revolutions per minute), and it starts at $1,129, the site said. The machine can be upgraded with a second Xeon processor.

The more bare-bones tc2120 starts at $499 with a 1.8GHz Intel Celeron chip, 128MB of RAM and a 40GB hard drive, HP's site said.

The new computers follow a pair of new laser printers that HP launched for small businesses in April.