In the past, notebook computers were primarily marketed and sold to users who needed a lightweight machine to bring with them during frequent travel. Manufacturers and VARs are finding that heavier, larger desktop-replacement notebooks offer just as many revenue opportunities. CRN Test Center engineers reviewed three desktop-replacement notebooks from Eurocom, Hewlett-Packard and MPC Computers.
Eurocom D870P Mirage
Eurocom's D870P Mirage is a mobile workstation measuring 15.5 by 1.5 by 10.75 inches and weighing almost 9 pounds. The Mirage supports Intel Pentium 4 processors as fast as 3.4GHz and is equipped with as much as 2 Gbytes of dual-channel DDR400 memory. The notebook also has two 100-Gbyte hard drives that can be configured as a RAID 0 or RAID 1 array. Gigabit Ethernet and dual-mode 802.11b/g wireless LAN connectivity are also included.
CRN's engineers tested notebooks from (top to bottom) HP Compaq, MPC and Eurocom. The Mirage has a 17-inch widescreen WSXGA+ display with a native resolution of 1,680 x 1,050 pixels, driven by an ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 Turbo Pro graphics accelerator with 256 Mbytes of DDR memory. The machine is equipped with two USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire port, one serial port, one parallel port,
S-Video out and DVI-I output for use with digital displays. A built-in WebCam and a 7-in-1 media reader are standard. The Sound-Blaster Pro-compatible audio system has digital S/PDIF output and four internal speakers. A subwoofer and CATV tuner are optional. The Mirage desktop-replacement notebooks start at $1,899, but a fully loaded unit costs $8,500. Because of the Mirage's processing power and high-end graphics capability, it would be ideal for CAD/CAM, Web design, presentations and digital design and editing tasks.
Eurocom offers three distinct tracks in its channel program. Partners qualify for each based on volume commitments, technical expertise, financial backing and market focus. Partners can choose to configure notebooks to meet customer needs and then calculate cost based on configuration. A barebones program is available to partners that commit to minimum monthly volume levels and that perform final assembly of the notebooks in-house. The white-box program is for integrators that can commit to greater volume. Systems configured by the solution provider average about a 10 percent margin, while margins for the barebones and white-box programs are set by the integrator. Custom color schemes or logos can also be added to the notebooks.
HP Compaq nx9500
The HP Compaq nx9500 is as user-friendly as the Eurocom unit, but not as powerful or expensive. The nx9500 has a 17-inch widescreen display with a WXGA resolution of 1,440 x 900 pixels. The display is driven by an NVIDIA GeForce FX Go5700 graphics accelerator with either 64 Mbytes or 128 Mbytes of memory. It has an S-Video output and integrated Harman Kardon speakers.
The nx9500 is built around a 3GHz hyperthreading Intel Pentium 4 processor with as much as 2 Gbytes of SDRAM. The machine also includes either a 60-Gbyte or 80-Gbyte hard drive, a combination DVD+RW/CD-RW drive, an integrated 56K modem and 10/100 NIC, 802.11g WLAN connectivity and a 12-cell Li-Ion battery. The nx9500 weighs about 9.5 pounds and measures 15.5 by 11.25 by 1.75 inches. Although the unit lacks serial ports, it has one parallel port. It also features one Type III PC Card slot and a reader supporting Smart Media, Secure Digital, Multimedia Card and Memory Stick Pro media. Four USB 2.0 ports and one FireWire port complete the package. The unit is the perfect machine for users who travel infrequently, or sometimes work from remote locations. It offers mobility without sacrificing performance. The nx9500 costs $1,799.
HP's PartnerOne program includes three tiers. Platinum partners must have 15 HP-certified technical consultants on staff or generate $75 million in HP product revenue annually. Gold partners must have five HP-certified technical consultants on staff or generate $10 million in HP product revenue annually. The Business partner level is open to anyone authorized to sell HP products. Gold and Platinum partners receive additional rebates and market-development funds, demonstration units and designated HP Partner Business Managers who create joint business plans twice a year. Margins vary widely based on product, services and deal size.
MPC TransPort X3000
MPC Computers' TransPort X3000 notebook was developed specifically for and targeted for sale to government organizations based on direct feedback from users. The Intel Centrino solution contains legacy ports and bays government customers need such as a serial port, a parallel port and two type II PC Card slots, along with a biometric fingerprint-recognition system. The unit includes a 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M processor with as much as 2 Gbytes of memory and a 60-Gbyte hard drive. Weighing 7.1 pounds and measuring 13 by 11.2 by 1.68 inches, the X3000 is bigger and heavier than many of its peers, but not unreasonably so for a three-spindle unit.
The X3000 offers an integrated hard drive, floppy drive and optical drive. The unit also features Gigabit Ethernet connectivity and an ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics accelerator with either 64 Mbytes or 128 Mbytes of dedicated graphics memory. Other features include an integrated 802.11b/g wireless NIC, a 6-in-1 media reader, a v.92 modem, two USB 2.0 ports and one PS/2 port. The X3000 can be equipped with either a 14.1-inch XGA display or a 15.0-inch SXGA+ display. The unit costs $2,652.
MPC provides a dedicated sales team for solution providers, with training available over the Web and in person. Technical support is available 24x7. MPC did not disclose average margin information.