HP Aims to Make You King of the Road

Calling 2005 the year for mobility, Ted Clark, HP‘s senior vice-president and general manager of mobile computing recently announced a series of products, services and partnerships designed to put mobile technology into the hands of SMBs across the country.

What’s so special about 2005? According to Richard Stone, HP’s wireless and mobility solutions manager, the necessary infrastructure is finally in place, and SMBs are ready to make the most of it. “SMBs tend to be more aggressive in adopting wireless technology than do enterprise level companies,” said Stone. “SMBs live by being quick on their feet and adapting to markets faster,” he continued. “They’re always looking for a competitive advantage, and mobility provides that for them.”

The company says its mobile products and services will focus on security, durability and ease of use. The major announcement includes the following:

HP Notebooks
The HP Compaq 9600, 8200, 6200, 6100 and 4200 business notebook series includes 10 new notebooks in what HP called the largest launch of commercial products in the company’s history. The notebooks run the gamut from desktop replacement and performance models to thin and mobile SKUs and lightweight performance systems aimed at cost-conscious buyers.

“The notebooks feature a range of capabilities and security is of primary concern,” said Stone. “Mobile devices are not commodities, they need security built-in, not bolted on.” Enhanced security features include Smart Card readers and BIOS management capability.

HP designed its Mobile Data Protection System to help lower the risk of data corruption by protecting the hard drive from the shocks and vibration of mobile use. The notebooks also feature a scuff- and scratch-resistant molding, and the company says its HP Panel Protection System helps protect the display from damage while closed.

HP Hosted Microsoft Exchange E-mail Solution
According to Ted Clark, SMBs that take advantage of HP’s hosted MS Exchange E-mail solution will have access to “mail like the big corporate guys with mobile e-mail, collaboration, push and synchronization capability.”

Hosted Exchange isn’t a new concept by any means, but Stone says SMBs benefit from hosting with HP because of the company’s reputation, expertise and long-term reliability. “It’s not just about e-mail anymore &#151 Outlook is a crucial business collaboration tool,” Stone said. “Knowing that HP is their Exchange host overcomes SMB owners’ nervousness about privacy, security and longevity. They know we won’t disappear.”

Stone said the hosted e-mail service is ideal for companies with five or ten employees, and the service comes in two levels.

Level One &#151 Basic
Provides bare bones Outlook and Outlook Express e-mail access only. No contact lists or calendaring. Cost: $3.20 per person, per month.

Level Two &#151 Premium
Full-blown Exchange capability including push e-mail, shared calendars, contact lists and global address lists. Cost: $11.95 per person, per month.

HP wLAN Assessment Service
For any SMB planning to install a wireless network, knowing how many access points you need and where to place them so that you have enough coverage is crucial. Do your access points need to be encrypted? If your business must comply with HIPAA or other types of state and federal regulations, yes, you need encryption.

HP’s wireless LAN assessment service (branded by HP and delivered by HP partners) is designed to handle those concerns. According to Stone, the HP partner goes through the building, figures out where the access points need to go and how they need to be configured. The partner provides the customer with a personalized blueprint containing all the information. HP has more than 210,000 reseller partners worldwide.

There are three pricing levels available (limited to two floors of one building, although you can combine multiple HP Care Pack services for buildings with more than two floors):

  • Small: Up to 30,000 sq. ft. Cost: $1600.
  • Medium: From 30,000 to 60,000 sq. ft. Cost: $2250.
  • Large: From 60,000 to 100,000 sq. ft. Cost: $3250.

Should you want to have the HP partner install the wireless LAN, configure the access points and show your employees how to use it, you can do so at the following prices &#151 based on the number and type of access points involved.

  • One Access Point: $600
  • Five Access Points: $1000
  • 10 Access Points: $1500
  • Five Wireless Devices: $400

HP Financial Services’ Budget Stretcher Program
Qualified SMB customers can buy up to $150,000 of new equipment or services on a lease term ranging from 27, 39 or 51 months. Stone said the extra months help SMBs buy the technology they need at a payment schedule they can afford.

Down the Road
HP also said to expect more smart devices in the coming year &#151 like the iPAQ Mobile Messenger, a communication tool based on the popular iPAQ 6300 series. The new device will feature integrated wireless voice, high-speed EDGE data networking and GPS navigation technologies.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

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