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The ProBook S

The ProBook S series of business notebooks also get a refresh today from HP. There are four new ProBook models, and they all sport USB 2.0 peripheral ports and a combination eSATA/USB 2.0 port for external disk attachment to the machines. They also have a fixed-focus Web cam built into the screen, and HDMI and VGA ports. (Other HP notebooks don't have the HDMI ports any more, but business customers still want these).

All of the ProBooks announced today also have an embedded Linux environment called DayStarter, that loads in four seconds as Windows is booting and gives users access to the prior twelve hours of their Outlook calendar (which is cached when the machine is turned off) as well as battery stats. DayStarter lets you see where you need to be as you await the Windows boot. This feature will eventually be offered on all HP ProBook and EliteBook machines.

The ProBook S machines announced today have optional fingerprint log-on and the facial recognition system log-on, the latter of which debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show in January with the HP Mini. The four machines come with brushed aluminum cases that are available in caviar or bordeaux colors. (What you and I might call dark gray and deep purple.)

The ProBook 4320s notebook can be equipped with the mobile variants of the "Westmere" versions of the Core i3, i5, and i7 processors that Intel debuted earlier this year. The machine uses Intel's HM57 chipset, and it has two DDR3 memory slots capable of supporting up to 8 GB.

The ProBook 4320s has a 13.3-inch screen (1366x768 resolution) and comes with Intel's integrated HD graphics as well as the option of plugging in one of AMD's ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4350 discrete graphics cards with 512 MB of memory. As you would expect, the machine supports wireless and wired Gigabit networking and has an optional HP mobile broadband module. This machine can have a single SATA disk (ranging from 250 GB to 500 GB) spinning at 7200 RPM, and weighs in at 4.74 pounds.

The ProBook 4420s pushes the screen size up to 14 inches (with the same 1366x768 rez) and the weight up to 4.71 pounds (5 pounds if you put the optical drive in). The ProBook 4520s takes the screen 15.6 inches (no change in rez) and the weight 5.5 pounds with the optical drive. Finally, the ProBook 4720s takes the screen size up to 17.3 inches, the resolution up to 1600x900, and the weight up to 6.8 pounds with the optical drive.

The ProBook S series machines that debut today have a wider variety of operation system options than the EliteBooks that came out with them. HP will pre-install the 32-bit versions of Windows 7 (Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional) and Windows XP Professional through a downgrade. Customers can also get a machine with Windows Vista Home Basic or Business (32-bit versions), SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11, or FreeDOS installed on the ProBook S machines. Red Flag Linux is available in China. The 64-bit Windows 7 Professional is supported on the machine, but you have to install it yourself.

The ProBook S series machines will ship this month, with a starting price of $719. ®

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