Compaq Presario's Offer 11b/g Options

By Eric Griffith

March 31, 2003

HP is the latest laptop maker to begin using Broadcom's draft-version of 802.11g; HP likes it so much, they'll use the 54g brand and provide some extra marketing.

Today Hewlett-Plackard announced a new line of Compaq Presario PCs, and Broadcom couldn't be happier.

In a move that Broadcom's senior director of marketing, Jeff Abramowitz says "shows just how mainstream wireless LAN networking is becoming," HP has the latest major laptop manufacturer to begin using Broadcom's 54g platform, the wireless LAN chipset that supports the IEEE's draft for 802.11g.

Broadcom's 54g powers such best selling products as the Wireless-G line from Linksys and Apple's AirPort Extreme.

The notebooks in question are the Compaq Presario 2500 (base price $1,198) and 2100 ($749). The former uses Intel's Pentium 4 and has a 15-inch XGA or SXGA screen; the latter comes with a mix of either a Intel Celeron or AMD Athlon with a 15- or 14.1-inch XGA screen. According to the site, they both come standard with an integrated V.90/V.92 modem and Ethernet jack combo, but can be upgraded to have 802.11b for $50, or 802.11g. The "ready-to-ship" versions of the 2100 come only with the modem; the ready-to-ship, 2500's have modem/Ethernet and 802.11b (not 11g) built in.

HP will also offer some retail SKUs of the Presarios with 54g-based 802.11g inside.

HP is also offering a high end Presario line called 3000US, without a 54g option; the 3017cl model does come with 802.11b integrated.

Broadcom is especially happy with HP's adoption of 54g because HP is actually calling the high speed networking by the 54g brand name. That's in contrast to Dell, which also offers 54g as an option in its Latitude D notebooks, but calls it TrueMobile, which is Dell's wireless LAN brand. The base-line Latitude D's are based on Intel's Centrino, which combines a Pentium M with an 802.11b chipset provided by Intel.

HP will also be starting a co-marketing program with retail partners to promote Broadcom's 54g to customers.

Abramowitz points out the technological advances of 54g include full 54Mbps support (the 802.11g specification will only require 24Mbps; the Wi-Fi Alliance however will require 54Mpbs for a product to get the Wi-Fi Certification); build in hardware support of the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) that will be needed for 802.11i security when it's available, as well as power control and enhanced receiver sensitivity. Broadcom has shipped over 3 million 54g chipsets since December 2002.

Broadcom's very early 11g products took some knocks from competitors as being so early -- as in, well before even the draft of 11g was locked down -- that they would not work well with other products, particularly those based on 802.11b, which the majority of users now have. Recently Broadcom announced a software upgrade to bring 54g products into line with the most recent changes to the 802.11g draft.

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