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HP Aims to Stand Out From Mobile-Device Frenzy With Desktop PCs

(Bloomberg) — Hewlett-Packard Co., the world’s biggest maker of personal computers, plans to release a pair of desktop PCs, aiming to stand out from a flood of portable technology at next week’s Consumer Electronics Show.

An all-in-one desktop PC for families called the HP Omni will go on sale Jan. 8, the Palo Alto, California-based company said today in a statement. Hewlett-Packard also will release the HP Pavilion HPE h9 Phoenix, a tower-style PC for gamers.

The PCs will make their debut two days before the start of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where companies plan to unveil a slew of new handheld gadgets, tablets and super-thin laptops known as ultrabooks. By rolling out an all-in-one PC, Hewlett-Packard is doing some counterprogramming, while targeting a piece of the desktop market that’s still doing well.

“All-in-ones are the growth spot in the desktop space,” said Chris Connery, an analyst at Santa Clara, California-based research firm DisplaySearch.

All-in-one PCs, such as Apple Inc.’s iMac, include all the parts of the computer — except the keyboard and mouse — within the main chassis. The market grew 39 percent to 14.5 million units worldwide last year, according to DisplaySearch.

The iMac accounted for 32.9 percent of shipments in the third quarter, the research firm estimates. Lenovo Group, meanwhile, grabbed the No. 2 spot in the all-in-one segment by appealing to customers in China. It had 22.7 percent of sales in the third quarter, followed by Hewlett-Packard with 21.4 percent. The total market may grow to 23.3 million units by 2014, according to DisplaySearch.

Beats Audio

The new HP Omni, which sports a 27-inch screen, starts at $1,200. The computer comes with Beats Audio technology, an optional Blu-ray disc drive and an HDMI high-definition TV connection.

The Pavilion HPE h9 Phoenix, Hewlett-Packard’s new gaming machine, will carry a lower price than competitive PCs, the company said. It starts at $1,150, with a more powerful configuration costing $1,500, said John Gleason, a senior product manager. It can handle up to 16 gigabytes of memory, ensuring smoother game performance.

Hewlett-Packard is incorporating Beats by Dre digital-music enhancing technology across its lineup of consumer PCs, part of an effort to distinguish them from a sea of commodity products.

The Beats name is popular with college students and music fans, who can pay $300 or more for headphones bearing the brand.

The Beats PC feature relies on a discrete amplifier inside the PC to improve the audio experience. Some rivals use Dolby Home Theater and Advanced Audio to enhance computer sound.

Hewlett-Packard is trying to revive growth in its $39.6 billion PC division after Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman’s October decision to keep the group in-house. Her predecessor, Leo Apotheker, had explored a possible spinoff of the business.

Ricadela is a reporter for Bloomberg News and Bloomberg Businessweek in Frankfurt.
Edwards is a reporter for Bloomberg News and Bloomberg Businessweek in San Francisco.

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