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HP launches projector line

The computing giant announces that it is entering the digital projector market, where its competition will include acquisition target Compaq Computer.

Hewlett-Packard announced Monday that it is entering the digital projector market, where its competition will include acquisition target Compaq Computer.

HP announced that beginning April 15, it will offer two models of portable projectors, devices mainly used by traveling workers to show PowerPoint slides and other types of presentations.

The move will make HP the second PC maker to offer its own line of projectors, following Compaq, which entered the market a few years ago and currently sells four projector models. Dell Computer has said it plans to offer its own line of projectors starting this fall.

Anneliese Olson, marketing manager for HP's new digital projector division, said the projector market is growing and that corporate customers increasingly want presentation systems included in the package when they buy notebook PCs.

"It used to be projectors were a specialized purchase," she said. "Now, people are looking to solution providers and PC makers to provide a complete package."

Olson said the presence of competing Compaq systems had no effect on HP's decision to enter the projector business.

"Until we know more, we are operating as two separate companies," she said.

HP has claimed victory in the battle to have the Compaq merger approved, but an official tally of the shareholder vote is still pending, and dissident director Walter Hewlett has filed a suit challenging the validity of the election.

Research firm Stanford Resources estimates the worldwide shipments of front-projection systems, the type of display used for business projectors, will grow from 1.4 million units and $6 billion in revenue last year to 4.5 million units and $9.9 billion in 2007.

Stanford Resources analyst Sweta Dash said PC makers account for only a small portion of projector sales now, but she expects their share to increase as inexpensive, lightweight projectors become a more common add-on for corporate laptop purchases. Leading projector manufacturers include InFocus, NEC and Toshiba.

The new HP models are the xb31, with illumination of 1,500 lumens and a price of $3,699, and the sb21, rated at 1,000 lumens and with a price tag of $2,499. Both weigh less than 3 pounds and are expected to be available at retail outlets and through HP's online store by April 15.