Compaq is today introducing the first members of an entire line of business products, from notebooks to workstations, with extra attention to wireless capabilities.
The new Evo family (short for "evolution") includes industrial-style notebooks, desktops, workstations, and thin clients. Compaq is taking orders for the first batch of Evo-branded products, and will begin shipping them in June. Evo products replace the company's soon-to-be defunct DeskPro and Prosignia desktop PCs, Armada notebooks, Aero appliances, and Professional workstations.
Even the IPaq-branded desktop is being subsumed into the Evo line, which draws its industrial-looking designs from the IPaq desktop. But now the IPaq name applies only to PDAs and other appliance products, says Lynn Cranford, the company's vice president of access brand management.
Among the handful of initial Evo products, most notable for Digit readers are the Workstation W6000 and W8000. The W6000 is based around up to two 1.4GHz or 1.7MHz Pentium Xeon processors (previously known as Pentium 4 Xeon or by the codename of Foster) with 256KB of Level 2 cache integrated onto the processor. It features an Intel 860 chipset with a 400MHz front-side bus and dual memory channels. Up to 2GB of RDRAM can be installed in the machine, as can up to 144GB of internal Ultra160 SCSI hard disk space. Four total slots are included (three PCI and AGP Pro 4X) – as are five drive bays.
The W8000 expands on the W6000’s spec, although it offers one or two 1.7MHz Pentium Xeon processors. It adds a maximum RDRAM of 4GB and hard drive space of 288GB, as well as dual-peer PCI buses. Seven total slots are included (two 64-bit/66MHz PCI, four 32-bit/33MHz PCI and one AGP Pro 4X) – as are seven drive bays.
Both workstations include a wide range of graphics cards, from NVidia’s Quadro2 range and Matrox’s G450 and G200 Quad Multi-monitor series to ATI’s Fire GL2 and 3Dlabs Wildcat II 5110. Both also include a 16x DVD or 48x CD drive, a SoundBlaster 128 audio system and either Windows 2000 or Windows NT Workstation.
What's in a Brand?
Compaq has been working on the new Evo brand for more than a year, says Compaq's Cranford. After testing hundreds of possible names, she says Evo won because the name appeals to buyers who want evolutionary products, not revolutionary ones.
The move to Evo is a good one, but not an entirely painless one, she notes. Ending the DeskPro product line wasn't easy for long-time Compaq employees. The brand has been around since 1984, and was the longest-standing PC sub-brand out there, she says.
Compaq is on the right track with its new branding strategy, says Anne Bui, senior analyst with IDC. The company's too-numerous brand names made it tough on buyers. "It's a smart move considering consumer confusion," she says.
Creating a strong brand is becoming even more important in the rapidly evolving PC market, Bui says. With major vendors looking at outsourcing their production, PCs begin to look more alike. The current price war means no vendor can sell wares for considerably less than the others. So in the end, a company differentiates itself by its brand, she says.
A successful brand takes a clear message and product vision, she says. Compaq has put a lot of work and thought into the Evo launch, which could bode well for the line.
Compaq's re-branding strategy is bold, but the company certainly isn't the first to do something like this, Bui notes. IBM has been re-branding its entire PC line as NetVista for some time. However, since IBM has pulled out of retail it is hard to tell how well that new brand is doing, she adds.