October 9, Hewlett-Packard announced that it will forgo the creation of
an "e-Brio" line of e-PC products for small business, and instead lump
the e-Vectra and e-Brio lines under the SMB e-PC banner. HP's e-PCs are
small, stripped-down versions of the standard desktop machine, competing
in the same market as Compaq's iPAQ and IBM's NetVista products.
the standard Vectra product line is aimed at the corporate PC market,
and standard Brio is aimed at small business. The SMB e-PC line will cover
both those markets. HP will provide only four different hardware configurations
for the new line, a reduction from the eight for the combined e-Vectra
and e-Brio lines, which have four each.
expects to have shipped 500,000 units by April, 2001.
We believe this is a good move on HP's part. At the low end of the hardware
market (where the e-Vectra resides), the tight margins do not lend themselves
to myriad configurations. In addition, a multiplicity of product lines
for essentially the same product just adds to customer confusion. The
idea of using service/support packages to distinguish between segments
is probably worthwhile, moving that differentiation out of hardware.
terms of feature set the e-Vectra doesn't break a lot of new ground, except
in terms of size. HP has spent considerable design effort to put a competitive
unit into a form factor smaller than anyone else's, and has succeeded.
The e-Vectra uses about 37.5 square inches of desk space; as a comparison,
a typical mouse pad uses 72 square inches, and Compaq's iPAQ needs 67.
Despite its small size the e-Vectra has pretty much the same feature set
as the iPAQ.
The e-Vectra is a good competitor to Compaq's iPAQ. The e-Vectra is significantly
smaller than the iPAQ - about one-third of the iPAQ's volume, and slightly
more than one-half of the iPAQ's footprint. The tradeoff is price - the
iPAQ at $969 provides a 10 GB hard drive and more flexibility via its
"MultiBay" device slot, versus the 8.4 GB drive in the $1099 e-Vectra.
Is spending the extra $130 for a unit with less capacity/flexibility worth
it, in order to save around half a mouse pad of desk space? It's up to
the user to decide, but on balance we'd go for the flexibility of the