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Quick Hits: Hewlett's New Laptop Surges Past Apple


Brief scrutiny of today's headlines.

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) moved ahead of Apple (AAPL) in the computer wars by introducing the first multi-touch-enabled notebook PC, the tx2.

The new computer is a convertible notebook. Its screen can swing 180 degrees to show a person sitting next to you what's displayed or it can lie flat like a tablet PC. It's the first convertible notebook pitched to consumers, Business Week reports.

Users can touch the screen to move images or use selected on-screen finger movements to complete basic commands. The new HP device starts at $1,150 - $151 more than an entry-level MacBook.

Apple's iPhone and iPod touch allow the use of finger movements to execute basic commands, but so far the company hasn't extended the technology to its computers. Touch screen technology isn't new and is commonly used on bank ATMs.

HP's new tx2 shows that it has leaped ahead of Apple in use of the technology on personal computers pitched to the consumer market. This is likely to shock Apple true believers, who routinely see their devices as having descended from Mount Olympus.

But the new tx2 is just part of Hewlett-Packard's efforts to diversify, a decision that's paying off in a downbeat economy.

HP is the world's biggest manufacturer of personal computers, but the company is also active in servers, storage devices, printers and networking equipment. HP's information technology services division is among the world's largest. It acquired Electronic Data Systems this year for about $13.9 billion in cash.

In short, HP serves both the corporate and consumer markets with a range of products and services. Less broadly focused companies, including Intel (INTC) and Dell (DELL), have taken a hit in the economic downturn.

But HP says fourth-quarter profit was $1.03 a share, beating analysts' estimates of $1. Revenue rose 19% to $33.6 billion. Excluding the EDS acquisition, HP's revenue grew 5% year over year. The company will report full results November 24.

With attention-grabbing equipment like the next tx2, Hewlett-Packard looks like it will continue to do well in an increasingly sour technology market.
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