HP's e-Vectra keeps it simple
- By Michelle Speir
- Sep 13, 2000
When we opened the box containing Hewlett-Packard Co.'s e-Vectra desktop
PC, our first thought was, "That's it?" The small form factor of this machine
is one-fourth the size of a traditional PC, and it weighs just under eight
The e-Vectra is HP's first "e-PC," a system designed to bridge the gap
between traditional, general-purpose PCs and simplified, specific-purpose
devices. It is versatile enough to work well in small- to medium-sized workgroups
as well as large agency IT environments.
The e-Vectra is perfect for users who need a PC for basic functions
such as office applications and Internet access. The design has been simplified
to consist of only three components: the chassis, the hard drive and the
power supply. The chassis can be used horizontally or vertically with the
System administrators will appreciate the mechanisms HP has added to
prevent unauthorized user access and therefore reduce system downtime. At
the same time, users in remote locations can support themselves more easily
with the e-Vectra than with most PCs because of the minimal number of components.
The chassis is sealed, allowing access to only the hard drive. Just
as important, thanks to clever packaging, the hard drive can be easily swapped
out by novices. The drive sits in a removable metal case, and the entire
case pops out with a tug of the attached handle.
When system administrators want to prevent user access to the hard drive,
the case cover can be locked. For added security, the e-Vectra features
the HP Port Control System, a fancy name for a simple plastic cover that
can be locked over the ports. The cover prevents the addition and removal
For easier administration, customers can order an HP Master Pass Key,
a custom-configured master key system that can unlock hundreds of machines.
Customers who want this option pay $999 to receive a lock configurator and
three master keys (for details and a photo, visit the
HP Master Pass Key system kit page). Users can use the configurator to set
the keys themselves. This way, customers can choose which machines can be
opened with each master key, and if additional systems are ordered later,
the key can be set to open them as well.
The e-Vectra features a 24X slim-format CD-ROM drive and a standard
set of ports: serial, parallel, VGA, two PS/2 and two USBs. It also features
a microphone jack and speaker in/out jacks. Speakers are optional, but you'll
need to buy some if you want sound because the system does not have internal
speakers. A USB external floppy drive also is available as an option.
The small chassis packs in plenty of computing power, with Intel Corp.'s
810e chipset, a 600 MHz Intel Pentium III processor, 128M of SDRAM, an 8.4G
hard drive and a 3Com Corp. Fast Etherlink 10/100 integrated network adapter.
Our unit came with Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 2000 Professional operating
The e-Vectra turned out a score of 128 on Business Applications Performance
Corp.'s (BAPCO) SYSmark/2000 suite of real-world benchmark tests. That's
a solid score for a machine in this class. Compaq Computer Corp.'s iPaq
with a 500 MHz Celeron processor scored an 86, while Micron Electronics
Inc.'s full-size desktop ClientPro Dx5000 with an 800 MHz Pentium III processor
scored a 176.
The documentation follows the overall "keep it simple" philosophy of
this system itself, and we think that makes sense. A basic quick-start guide
and a small "Quick User's Guide" ship with the system. HP states that it
kept the manual small out of concern for the environment. If users require
more information, they can access HP's Web site for downloadable documentation,
service and support options, and the latest drivers and utilities. In addition,
customers can order the HP Information CD-ROM, which contains complete information
about the system. One CD costs $12, with quantity discounts for orders of
five and 20.
HP's approach saves paper and printing costs and avoids burdening users
with information they don't need while still providing each user with a
handy, hard-copy guide for reference.
The e-Vectra ships with a recovery disk and a set of drivers on CD.
It also features the "HP Install Network Printer Wizard" pre-installed on
The e-Vectra is a great solution for organizations needing basic PC
functions in a package that emphasizes manageability. The system's simple
design should eliminate a lot of administration and help-desk headaches.