Hewlett-Packard Co. on Oct. 29 unveiled a new mini-notebook in a move to gain ground in the fastest-growing PC category, which until now has been dominated by its smaller rivals, Reuters reports. Netbooks–ultra-portable, inexpensive laptops designed for web browsing and light tasks–have taken the PC market by storm this year, with smaller computer firms such as Acer Inc. and Asustek Computer Inc. leading the charge. HP’s sleek new Mini 1000, costing about $400, is significantly different from the company’s first netbook release, launched last spring. It uses Intel Corp.’s Atom processor and is also substantially less expensive, signaling that the price war in netbooks that some analysts have been predicting might have begun. Although still a fraction of the overall PC market, netbooks’ popularity could lead to changes in the pecking order of PC makers and cut into margins and profitability as average selling prices come down. In the third quarter, Acer gained ground on HP and Dell Inc., with a big assist from mini-notebooks.  Carlos Montalvo, vice president of marketing in HP’s managed home business, said HP’s first netbook, which was targeted at the education market, was "phenomenally successful." However, he said the Mini 1000 is aiming for a broader audience. The new netbook will start at $399 for a version running Microsoft Corp.’s Windows XP, jumping to $549 for a fully loaded model. HP will also offer a Mini 1000 that runs Linux for $379.  The machines feature a keyboard that is 92-percent the size of a standard keyboard and weigh less than three pounds…

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