In an attempt to solidify product awareness, Compaq has launched a new range of notebook computers under the Armada name.
The PC maker announced the first two models in its Armada line at PC Expo in New York earlier this week. They are: a slimline notebook weighing in at 2.3kg and a low-cost notebook aimed at home and small business users. To avoid leaving its high-end notebook users in the dust, the company has also announced a new models of its LTE 5000 line.
Over the next 12 months, Compaq will migrate all of its portable products -- ranging from high-end multimedia notebooks to unannounced handheld computers -- to the Armada brand, says Mike Winkler, senior vice-president and general manager of Compaq's portable PC division in Houston, who spoke at a pre-PC Expo press conference.
The move is an attempt to limit buyer confusion, sharpen Compaq's profile as a notebook supplier, and regain market share. Falling from No. 1 in 1993, Compaq currently shares the No. 2 spot in the worldwide notebook market with two other vendors, Winkler says.
"There's a movement in the market now to go under one brand," says Randal Guisto, manager of International Data's mobile computing research, in Framingham, Massachusetts, pointing to well-known names such as IBM's ThinkPad and Apple's PowerBook. "Names become key; otherwise it confuses buyers, especially in the corporate level."
Assimilating four notebook brands under one umbrella name may help Compaq climb back up to a higher position in the market, Guisto says.
Compaq is also currently working on a project that will yield something like an Internet-enabled network computer, the so-called thin client definition adopted by many leading hardware makers as an alternative to full-fledged PCs.
"We are talking about a product that would be a sub-PC," says Bruno Didier, Compaq's vice-president for commercial business in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. "The idea would be to design a computer that was somewhere between a notebook and a handheld device."
Compaq is still carrying out extensive market research as to whether the product will be viable. Didier rules out a launch of such a product before Comdex in Las Vegas, in November.
The Armada 4100, Compaq's new offering for the road warrior, features a modular design. With the 4100, users can hot-swap the floppy drive for a second battery and can add a mobile CD-ROM unit for full functionality. For those looking for the lightest option possible, all three of these elements can be left behind to offer a 40mm, 2.3kg slimline notebook.
The notebook features 75- to 133-MHz Pentium processors with L2 cache on the higher-end models, and a 32-bit PCI local bus architecture. It can be configured with either 8Mb or 16Mb of RAM, expandable to 48Mb, with hard disk options of 810Mb or 1Gb. The notebook will come with either a 11.3in STN or a 11.8in TFT colour display. The 4100 is priced from US$2599 to US$4500, and it will be available in July.
Compaq's new Armada 1100 will replace the Contura range and cater to the low end of the market. The 1100 will feature 75- to 100-MHz Pentium processors, 8Mb of RAM, with an 810Mb hard drive. Screen options are 10.4in active and passive matrix colour displays. The product will cost between US$1899 and US$2299, depending on configuration, and is available immediately.
The company also announced additions to its LTE 5000 family.
Compaq, in Houston, is at http://www.compaq.com/.