H-P Hones Gadget, Game Wares
By Alexei Oreskovic
TheStreet.com Senior Writer
SAN FRANCISCO -- Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) took the lid off a slew of new products, sharpening its focus on gadgets and games ahead of the all-important holiday shopping season.
The technology company showcased more than 20 new products, including notebook PCs, cell phones and satellite-guided navigation devices, at an event at New York's Fashion Week late Wednesday.
The headliner of the show was without a doubt the so-called Blackbird, a sleek, aluminum desktop PC designed for video gamers. The Blackbird, which features liquid cooling and an LED illuminated back panel, is the first fruit of H-Ps 2006 acquisition of Voodoo PC, a Canadian maker of high-end game PCs.
"Gaming PCs have always been accessible to only a few," Todd Bradley, the head of H-P's PC division in said a statement. "By combining our acquisition a year ago of gaming leader Voodoo with innovations from H-P Labs, we're bringing the gaming experience to the mainstream."
With a price tag ranging from $2,500 to $7,100, the Blackbird will add a nice bump to the top line if H-P can indeed broaden the appeal of a gaming PC beyond the existing base of hard-core gamers.
H-P's game plan is in sharp contrast to that of Dell (DELL) , the world's No. 2 PC maker, which acquired Alienware, another high-end gaming PC maker, in 2006.
Unlike the H-P-Voodoo collaboration that created the Blackbird, Dell has made a point of keeping Alienware a completely separate brand. While Alienware is tied into Dell's supply chain, to ensure component cost benefits, Dell does not advertise Alienware PCs from its Web site.
On the other hand, Dell already has an existing line of Dell-branded gaming PCs known as XPS.
The barrage of new products from H-P comes as the holiday sales season draws near. In a similar vein, Apple (AAPL) on Wednesday refreshed its entire line of iPod MP3 players.
H-P also introduced a new lineup of handheld PCs, smartphones and laptops, each sporting different arrays of networking and communications options such as 3G, Wi-Fi and GPS.
And for the first time, H-P said it will offer business notebooks featuring flash-based hard drives, following a similar move by Dell earlier in the year.
Though hard drives that use flash memory chips are more expensive than the traditional magnetic hard drives, they are smaller, more reliable and consume less power.
Shares of H-P were up 10 cents at $50.20 in midday trading Thursday.