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HP refreshes consumer PCs

The company has changed the look of four Presario desktops and has added faster wireless networking to two Presario notebooks.

Hewlett-Packard has refreshed its budget line of consumer desktops and added faster wireless networking to two Presario notebooks.

The four new Presario S3000 desktops, available starting Friday, feature a silver and black chassis with slightly rounded edges and a bay for USB (universal serial bus) ports located in front that can covered by a tiny sliding door. Research showed that customers wanted the ports moved from the back of the computer to the front, said Giovanni Sena, product manager, North America Consumer Computing. However, because the ports are unattractive, HP put in the sliding door.

The Presario line, which HP picked up in the Compaq merger, is largely targeted at consumers and small businesses looking to save money. In the Presario family, the S3000 is the budget line. The new desktop PCs range in price from $499.99 to $819.99. The company also offers a $50 rebate.

All four desktops come with Athlon processors from Advanced Micro Devices, 256MB to 512MB of memory, a 40GB to 128GB hard drive, and either a CD-RW (CD-rewritable) drive or both a CD-RW and a DVD-ROM drive.

Some of the currently popular Presarios include those selling in the $399 to $500 price band.

"The overall market in that range is pretty strong," said Sena. "A lot of people are buying in that range."

By contrast, HP's Pavilion line, which competes against multimedia machines from companies like Sony, typically come with Pentium 4 processors from Intel, which often cost more, and are often paired with recordable DVD drives.

In notebooks, HP added built-in 54g (also called 802.11g) wireless networking to its Presario 2100 and 2500 notebooks, available starting Friday.

The two models originally came out in January but featured 802.11b networking. The newer networking is faster. Companies use the 54g designation because the 802.11g standard has yet to be ratified.

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Among other features, the notebooks come with a touchpad designed by Synaptics that can be turned off with one click. Some notebook users like to turn off the pad, said HP's Kevin Wentzel, technical marketing manager, Notebooks Global Business Unit, to prevent the cursor being moved by an accidental sweep of the wrist.

The Presario 2500 features Pentium 4 desktop processors running at up to 2.8GHz; and the Presario 2100 features Celeron and Pentium-M chips. Prices for the 54g-equipped Presario 2500 start at $1,099; the Presario 2110 starts at $819. The company also offers a $50 rebate.

In a few months, HP said it will come out with a Centrino notebook for the consumer market, company executives have said. Centrino notebooks come with an integrated module for wireless Internet access from Intel and a Pentium-M chip.

HP is also contemplating a release of notebooks with 16- and 17-inch screens like Sony, Toshiba and Apple have done. Questions, though, linger on whether or not consumers want screens this size.

The problem is "how do you use the extra space on the monitor," Wentzel said.