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Hitachi joins slim notebook push

The company becomes the latest manufacturer to release a 3-pound "ultraslim" notebook, boosting the staying power of this relatively new category of laptops.

Everybody is getting slimmer in the notebook PC market.

Hitachi has become the latest manufacturer to release a 3-pound "ultraslim" notebook and in the process helped further establish the staying power of this relatively new category of notebooks.

Dell Computer released a similar notebook last week.

As with other notebooks in this category, the VisionBook 600 stresses cutting-edge design but not necessarily cutting edge technology. The VisionBook 600 weighs 2.9 pounds and measures a slim 1.2-inches thick. The "footprint" or base of the notebook, however, is similar to standard notebooks, which makes the machines easier to use than the squished mini-notebooks.

The reduction in weight and thickness comes partially because the notebook is encased in carbon fiber material. Manufacturers are increasingly using carbon fiber or magnesium cases for this segment of the market.

The design advantages, however, mean that the notebook does not come with the same technological features that are seen in standard corporate notebooks. The VisionBook, like most products in this class, contains an Intel Pentium MMX processor, rather than a Pentium II. The screen also measures 10.4-inches, while most corporate notebooks now feature screens measuring 13 or more inches.

Intended for business users, the VisionBook comes with a 266-MHz Pentium MMX processor, 56K modem or LAN card, a minimum of 32MB of memory, and a 4.3GB hard drive. It sells for between $1,999 and $2,399, depending on the configuration.