Hewlett-Packard on Monday unveiled its tablet personal computer in Hong Kong with an eye on keeping the Compaq brand relevant to consumers. Launched worldwide last week, the Compaq Tablet PC TC1000 is HP's entry to a new segment of the computer market. The machine can be used in a number of modes - including as tablet, portable notebook and desktop - for users in different working environments. Benny Wong Ho-cheung, Hong Kong product marketing manager at HP's personal systems group, said the new product release was in line with the company's commitment to maintain the Compaq brand name in all its desktop and notebook computers. HP completed its merger with rival Compaq Computer on May 3 this year to form an information technology giant that rivals IBM for scale and scope in terms of its reach and business diversity. To push the adoption of the Compaq Tablet PC in Hong Kong, HP officials said the company had formed an alliance with six local software developers. They were CiF Solutions, CyberM Information Technology, Datacraft Asia, E&S Land Data Management Consultants, EZ-Finance (Brightex) and MTel. Wireless-enabled and highly portable, HP's tablet PC combines the power of digital inking technologies from Microsoft's Windows XP Tablet PC Edition operating system with a full-function PC. With built-in 802.11b wireless local area network capability, people could input data or search information from their computer database from remote locations, Mr Wong said. Priced at HK$13,990, the Compaq Tablet PC will come with an English-language operating system and the Chinese PenPower writing system when it is generally released near the end of this month. When used as a tablet, the Compaq Tablet PC captures digital ink as it flows from an electronic pen onto the PC's screen, much like a person would use pen and paper. When typing is preferred, users can simply snap on a lightweight keyboard and convert the Compaq Tablet PC into an ultra-portable notebook. The new HP product transforms into a full-function desktop PC when combined with a docking system, a full-size keyboard and a monitor. This docking system provides users the ability to use two display monitors at once, expanding the work space and increasing productivity by allowing users to view multiple applications on either an optional second monitor or the Tablet PC screen in portrait or landscape mode. The HP tablet PC comes with a 30 gigabyte hard-disk drive and is powered by a one-gigahertz Transmeta Crusoe TM5800 microprocessor. Mr Wong said this chip's performance was similar to that of Intel's Pentium III processor. Although HP officials touted the longer battery life of the Transmeta chip, this processor was estimated to have a standby time of 4.5 hours, a feature that was less than what most personal digital assistants (PDAs) and notebook computers on the market offered. Mr Wong said HP, unlike other makers of tablet PCs, had narrowed its marketing efforts to sales employees and other mobile professionals whose job required plenty of field work. He said HP's partners in Hong Kong had developed various tablet PC-based applications that ranged from land development, banking and finance to retail services like beauty salons. Program prices vary, from as low as HK$10,000 to a high HK$100,000. Andy Cheong, senior consultant at CyberM, said a local beauty salon recently agreed to use the Tablet PC on a trial basis for customer relations management and sales analysis. Despite the optimistic outlook of HP and its local partners on the take-up of the Compaq Tablet PC in Hong Kong, analysts raised concerns about the product's price. International Data Corp research director Kitty Fok said: 'It's too expensive.' She stressed that SAR buyers were reluctant to pay HK$20,000 for a single electronics device. The Tablet PC is expected to chip away some revenues from sales of Pocket PC operating system-based PDAs, but Ms Fok said consumers would probably wait for tablet PC prices to fall. Ms Fok said the tablet PC, with its slim format and multi-function modes, should be able to attract executives using notebooks. The mainland launch dates for HP's tablet PC products had not been decided because a simplified Chinese operating system would be needed in that market, Mr Wong said.