HP offering 3G mobile broadband service for laptops

HP also announced new ultraportable Elitebook laptops with Intel's latest Sandy Bridge processors

Hewlett-Packard said on Monday it will start offering pay-as-you-go 3G mobile broadband services for its business laptops as the company looks to package more services with PCs.

HP is offering the DataPass mobile broadband service with its new 3G-enabled Elitebook business laptops, which were also announced on Monday. The service provides access to 3G data networks in the U.S., and does not require a user to sign a monthly or yearly contract with a wireless carrier.

The DataPass service can be purchased easily in blocks through the laptop, and users don't need to pay any activation fee, said Mike Hockey, an HP spokesman. With plans starting at US$5, the service is good for quick access to the Internet for different durations at places like airports or hotels, where Internet access could otherwise be expensive.

Users can buy a US$5 data plan for 75MB of data over 5 hours, $10 for 150MB of data over 3 days, $20 for 450MB of data over 14 days, or $30 for 1GB of data over 30 days.

The service is available in the U.S. only and worldwide availability is being explored, Hockey said. The service is 3G-only, and access to 4G networks is not yet offered through the service.

The service is available only with HP laptops, which could include optional hardware such as a modem to access 3G networks. Software on the laptop shows availability of a DataPass network at the user’s location.

The company does not intend to become a telecom service provider, and the service is being provided as a convenience to customers, Hockey said. Users can continue using mobile broadband services from other network providers such as Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile, he added.

The service will be available with new Elitebook business laptops announced by HP on Monday. The laptops provide longer battery life than older models and are equipped with Intel's latest Sandy Bridge processors.

The Elitebook 5330m is less than 1 inch (25.4 millimeters) thick and weighs less than four pounds (1.81 kilograms). It includes a 13.3-inch screen and will be available with Intel's latest Core i5 and i3 processors. With a four-cell battery and solid-state drive storage, the laptop can provide up to 6.5 hours of battery life, according to the company. The laptop is priced starting at $799 and will become available worldwide this month.

HP also announced the Elitebook 2560p ultraportable and 2760p convertible tablets. The laptops come with Intel's latest Core i5 and i7 processors.

The 2560p weighs 3.68 pounds and comes with a 12.5-inch screen, which is the same size as the display on Lenovo's latest ThinkPad X220 tablet that is available since April. The Elitebook 2560p is priced starting at $1,099.

The 2760p is a convertible laptop with a 12.1-inch convertible screen that flips around for users to take notes using a pen input. With a six-cell battery and a hard drive, the laptop provides 8.5 hours of battery life. The laptop will become available worldwide this month starting at $1,499.

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