Hp's Calculated Gamble On Superlight Notebooks

Over the past 20 years, calculators have been phenomenally successful for Hewlett-Packard Co. Recently, the company has parlayed that success into a profitable line of handheld organizers. Its personal-computer business, however, has been slow to take mff. So when the company decided to enter the notebook-computer market, it turned over the design task to its calculator group. The result: the OmniBook, due out on June 7, a 2.9-pound PC with an emphasis on ease of use.

OmniBook, the lightest fully configured portable computer, cuts out a lot of heft with its rechargeable 10-hour battery, which weighs just 5.6 ounces, half as much as other rechargeables. It can also run for up to 10 hours on regular AA batteries. It comes with a pop-out mouse, uses light plug-in cards for memory and applications software, has Microsoft Corp.'s Windows and other popular programs built into read-only memory, and uses an infrared signal rather than a cable to connect with a printer. The OmniBook is expected to be priced at less than $2,600.

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