EcoFocus: PCs and software meet bikes, paint, and other green goods

At Pepcom's EcoFocus press event this week, HP launched new notebooks featuring HP Smart AC Adapters for automatically making power adjustments when needed. Available preloaded with a choice of Microsoft Windows or Novell SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11, the five new HP ProBook models also come with HP Mobile Broadband, a system combining an HP m2400 module with built-in Qualcomm Gobi technology to support wireless connectivity to multiple broadband networks and operators.

Priced starting at about $529, the ProBooks come in 14-, 15.6-, and 17.-3-inch widescreen flavors. All five ProBooks are also outfitted with a new keyboard design, in which the keys are raised in an attempt to prevent dust and dirt from settling underneath. The notebooks offer a mercury-free design and high-definition backlit displays. A compatible USB 2.0 docking station is slated to ship in June, Betanews was told.

Meanwhile, Lenovo highlighted its ThinkCentre M58e all-in-one desktop PC system, now shipping for the past couple of weeks. The all-in-one incorporates Lenovo Power Manager, a power management tool for reducing the PC's carbon footprint, noted Lenovo's Aimee Foskie, during a product demo.

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Like HP and Lenovo, PC makers like Sony and Toshiba also showed off full line-ups of previously announced computers -- along with accessories such as displays and printers -- touted as compliant with specifications such as Energy Star and EPEAT. Even the netbooks were eco-friendly.

Also at EcoFocus, a first-time "green" show from Pepcom, Monster released two new Digital PowerCenters for home theater systems. Monster's HDP 850G (priced at $99.95) and HDP 900G ($129.95), each equipped with Monster GreenPower technology for shutting off home theater components when not in use.

A start-up named MakeMeSustainable introduced a Web-based software system, now in beta, aimed at letting consumers and companies calculate and track their own carbon footprints, get suggestions for cutting their energy costs, and share energy-related information online with friends and business partners.

But the PCs and software on hand at EcoFocus dotted a landscape also made up of a wide assortment of other "green" ware, including anti-pollution paints from Benjamin Moore and Pratt & Lambert; recycled paper goods from Marcal and Mohawk; PiSAT's "green" solar lantern/flashlight; Mariah Power's windspire vertical axis wind turbine; an electronic bike from Ultra Motors USA, and an alternative air conditioning system from CALMAC.

Unlike Schwinn's previously released Tailwind hybrid bike, Ultra Motors' A2B requires no peddling when its removable lithium ion battery is in use, said a company rep. If the A2B's battery power does run out, you can always peddle the vehicle like a regular bike. That scenario does seem kind of unlikely, though, since Ultra Motors also provides a built-in "realtime state-of-charge indicator."

For their part, CALMAC's IceBank Energy Storage Systems store energy from relatively cheap sources such as wind power and off-peak electricity overnight, in the form of ice. The ice is then used the next day to cool buildings like retail stores, schools, banks, and office buildings.

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