Industry heavyweights keep churning out products

We suppose one product isn't enough anymore. Both IBM and Hewlett-Packard announced a variety of new products and services last month.

IBM is bolstering its security offerings while HP concentrates on mobile productivity. Both companies have forged partnerships with vendors who specialize in those areas.

IBM buttresses the fortress

With three new technologies, IBM is rounding out the security offerings for its ThinkPad notebook and ThinkCentre desktop computers, said Clain Anderson, program director for wireless and security solutions in the IBM Personal Computing Division.

The first is an expanded lineup of fingerprint readers. Integrated readers will start to show up on more ThinkPad notebooks while ThinkCentre desktop users can purchase the new IBM Preferred Pro USB Fingerprint Keyboard for $99 or a stand-alone USB fingerprint reader for $69. The accompanying software offers file security and log-in authentication.

Next is a new data-encryption offering thanks to a partnership with Utimaco, a company that makes enterprise information security software. The package, called SafeGuard PrivateDisk, generates an encrypted virtual drive that can be stored on local hard drives, network drives and all removable media. Even better, it's integrated with IBM's embedded security chip.

The third offering also bears the fruit of a partnership, with Absolute Software, makers of Computrace mobile tracking software. IBM worked with the company to develop an improved version of the product that resides on the BIOS instead of the hard drive, and IBM ThinkPads and ThinkCentres will soon ship with the software preloaded.

If a notebook or desktop computer running Computrace is stolen, Absolute officials guarantee its recovery and can even remotely delete data at the user's request. Administrators also can use the software for inventory, location tracking, software title tracking and license compliance.

The yearly subscription price for Computrace is $40.

HP's road trip

HP officials want to get you out of your office and on the road with their worldwide mobility initiative, which includes new products, services and partnerships.

"Technology is adapting to you instead of you adapting to technology," said Ted Clark, senior vice president and general manager of HP's Mobile Computing global business unit.

To that end, HP has introduced 10 new business notebook computers. They all feature several new durability bells and whistles, such as HP's Mobile Data Protection System, which protects hard drives from shocks and vibrations resulting from everyday use.

The notebooks are coated with a new laminate material that resists scuffs and scratches, and a Panel Protection System helps protect the display from the same.

HP also plans to introduce new iPaq handheld devices throughout the year, the first of which is the HP iPaq Mobile Messenger. It features a built-in keyboard, wireless voice capability, EDGE data networking and Global Positioning System technology.

HP will offer Good Technology's GoodLink software on the Mobile Messenger and future iPaqs for wireless access to corporate e-mail, calendar, contacts and other information managed through Microsoft Outlook and Exchange.

HP has also partnered with Nokia to develop a Mobile Forms Initiative that adapts existing paper forms for mobile users. Users can collect data with a Nokia mobile device, such as a digital pen or phone and transmit the information to an enterprise's back end in real time.

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