SAN FRANCISCO — Compaq Computer Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co., two manufacturers battered in the vicious PC market, are moving at least in part away from the traditional desktop unit after discovering that as far as profit-conscious Wall Street is concerned, PCs aren't very PC.
Hewlett-Packard plans to announce today that it will soon begin shipping a computer called the e-PC, which it describes as halfway between the traditional desktop machine and the anticipated "Internet appliance" of the future.
The e-PC is smaller and cheaper than a garden-variety business desktop. And because it has fewer features, it should crash a lot less often.
But the device can't be upgraded, for example, by snapping in extra memory. And it isn't backwardly compatible, meaning that it can't use many applications designed for standard personal computers.