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Compaq readies first ultrathin notebook

Compaq will introduce its first ultrathin notebook PC next week as it goes head to head with Sony, Toshiba, and IBM in this new class of portables.

Compaq will introduce its first ultrathin notebook PC next week as it goes head to head with Sony, Toshiba, and IBM in this new class of portables.

Compaq Computer also said today that it has cut prices on its Deskpro desktop PCs up to 14 percent.

Next week, Compaq is expected to announce its first notebook to compete with IBM's recently released 570 ThinkPad model, Sony's Vaio Z505 line, and Toshiba's Portoge 7020 series, according to sources familiar with the announcement. The Compaq notebook will be part of its Armada series of business portables.

These portables are generally about 1 inch thick--or less--and weigh between 3 and 4 pounds. Typically, notebooks are about twice as thick and weigh about twice as much.

Though for some users these are practical computers because of their light weight, they also serve as fashion statements and are often the centerpiece of promotions for these companies. Sony, Toshiba, and IBM parade the svelte computers as the most keen edge of cutting-edge portable designs.

Dell Computer also offers an ultrathin notebook in its Latitude line though currently it comes with only a Pentium processor while IBM and Toshiba offer faster Pentium II chips and larger screens.

The only compact notebook offerings from Compaq in the past couple of years have been the Armada 3500 and the newer 1900 series Presario consumer notebook. The Presario 1900 is 1.2 inches thick and uses a 366-MHz Pentium II chip and 13.3-inch screen. The Armada 3500 has similar dimensions and features.

Ironically, Compaq inherited Digital Equipment's HiNote line of notebooks when it purchased the Massachusetts company. Back in 1995 when Digital introduced this line, it received a lot of attention as the first ultrathin notebooks from a major PC maker. However, Compaq, earlier this year, decided to discontinue this series--currently manifested as the Armada 6500--in the U.S. market.

Also, Compaq said today that it is cutting prices on its Deskpro desktop PCs. Prices for a Deskpro EP Series model with an Intel Celeron processor at 400 MHz and a 4.3 GB hard drive start at $1,029, which includes a 15-inch monitor.

Next week, Compaq is also expected to announce an upgrade to its Windows CE computer line.