Dell introduces 'desknote'

The new machine will pack an Intel Pentium 4 processor at up to 2.8GHz, putting it in the popular category of notebooks designed for desktop use.

John G. Spooner Staff Writer, CNET News.com
John Spooner
covers the PC market, chips and automotive technology.
John G. Spooner
3 min read
Dell Computer is getting ready to deliver a more powerful Inspiron notebook for consumers.

The company has unveiled a new Inspiron 5100 in Europe and is expected to bring it out in the United States in short order.

The Inspiron 5100, which appeared on Dell's U.K. Web site this week, packs Intel Pentium 4 processors with clock speeds ranging from 2.4GHz to 2.8GHz, as well as a 14-inch screen and built-in wireless networking. The new machine also adopts a "desknote" design theme, meaning that it uses desktop versions of the Pentium 4 and pairs them with a large screen, with the aim of offering consumers and small businesses basic portability for an relatively inexpensive price.

While the overall PC market has been weak since the end of 2001, notebook sales have comparatively been very strong, especially among consumers. Many consumers have begun replacing their desktop PCs with desknotes. Despite drawbacks that make the machines heavier and more power-hungry than standard laptops, desknotes come at a lower price than a notebook with a mobile processor. They also offer near-desktop performance and the ability to be moved or stowed away easily.

Dell, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba and Sony all now offer desknote machines, with prices starting as low as $1,200 after rebates and with Pentium 4 speeds of up to 2.8GHz.

"I'm not surprised Dell is integrating desktop Pentium 4s into its notebooks, particularly for consumers who are looking for great price performance," said Brooks Gray, an analyst with Technology Business Research. "It's a perfect model for Dell. A lot of customers are buying a second notebook for their home or opting for a (desknote) in place of a desktop, so as to have some mobility throughout the house."

While many industry observers dismissed the Pentium 4 desknote as a flash in the pan when it first appeared last year, they now say the category will live on. Even Intel has jumped on the bandwagon. The company is expected later this year to introduce a new line of Pentium 4 chips, running at speeds of up to 3.06GHz, for desknotes as an extension to its Pentium 4 mobile processor line.

Dell hasn't listed a price yet for its Inspiron 5100. But at about 7.3 pounds, the new machine weighs somewhat less than other desknotes in its class, which come in at 7.5 pounds to 9 pounds. It also comes with an optional, high-resolution 15-inch screen.

Dell's new notebook, which is expected to replace the current Inspiron 2650, will be the first of several new models coming from the manufacturer over the next few weeks.

The company is also expected to launch a redesign soon of its top-of-the line Inspiron 8200 notebook. Along with a host of other manufacturers, Dell is also set to bring out new models machines based on Intel's forthcoming Pentium-M/Centrino notebook chip family. Intel will launch Centrino during an event in New York on March 12.

Meanwhile, notebook makers are working to add new features to their desknotes as quickly as possible.

Hewlett-Packard said Wednesday that it will begin offering 80GB hard drives in a new Pavilion ze5300 desknote model. Previously, 60GB was the largest notebook drive capacity available. HP will claim to be the first manufacturer to offer a drive of this size, when the machine ships in a few weeks.

Meanwhile, Toshiba recently fitted its popular Satellite 1905 desknote with a DVD burner, creating the new Satellite 2405.