HP's New Lightweight Laptops Light on Wallet Too

Hewlett-Packard today is set to unveil a pair of consumer laptops sporting multimedia capabilities, sleek metal casings and prices starting at just under $700. The systems are being announced in conjunction with the International CES trade show that starts on Thursday in Las Vegas.

The Pavilion DV2 weighs as little as 3.8 lb. and measures 0.93 in. at its thinnest -- a shade skinnier than the unibody aluminum MacBook and MacBook Pro offerings released by Apple Inc. in October.

Encased in a combination of magnesium-aluminum alloy and black or white plastic, the DV2, priced from under $700, includes a 12-in. BrightView LED screen and an AMD Athlon 1.6-GHz Neo MV-40 mobile processor. Users can choose between an external LightScribe DVD-RW drive or an external Blu-ray DVD player.

"The typical ultraportable costs between $1,600 and $2,400," said Kevin Wentzel, technical marketing manager for consumer notebooks for HP, in a briefing before the CES show. "We are offering ultraportables that anyone can afford."

The Pavilion DV3 is a touch heavier (starting at 4.3 lb. with battery and charger) and thicker than the DV2, and is priced from $800.

The DV3 comes with a larger 13-in. BrightView LED screen, a choice of faster AMD Athlon or Turion dual-core mobile processors, and an onboard DVD-RW drive.

HP hopes the new systems can help it extend its lead in the global laptop market . According to DisplaySearch, HP held a 19.7% share of the worldwide laptop market at the end of the third quarter of 2008. HP was followed by Acer Inc. (which also sells under the Gateway and Packard Bell brands), with 17.1%; Dell Inc., with 13%; and Toshiba Corp. and Asustek Computer Inc., with 8.6% each. Apple ranked seventh, with 4.1% of the global market, according to DisplaySearch.

The new Windows Vista-based Pavilions will compete head-on with both of Apple's latest aluminum MacBooks, as well as with Lenovo's new Y650, Y550 and Y450 IdeaPads, which were unveiled on Monday .

The DV2 and DV3 are thinner and lighter than other Pavilions, which range from a minimum of 4.6 lb. and 1.23 in. thick for its Pavilion tx2500z notebooks to 7 lb. for its massive HDX 18t Premium laptops with 18-in. screens.

The new Pavilions are slightly bulkier and more expensive than netbook-class machines such as its own HP 2133, though they offer faster processors and larger keyboards that are 92% of the standard full size.

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