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Prices slip for DVD-burning notebooks

Toshiba lowers prices to nearly $2,000 on two new models, as DVD burners slowly work their way into the notebook world--after more than a year of service on the desktop.

With the release of two new models, Toshiba has lowered its prices on DVD-burning notebooks to nearly $2,000.

The company on Tuesday launched a pair of Satellite notebooks that include its mobile DVD-RW drive.

Toshiba hopes that it will create a hit by offering the mobile DVD burner--which can pack several gigabytes of data on a disc, versus a CD burner's maximum of 650MB--in two of its most popular consumer notebooks.

After more than a year of service in desktop computers, DVD burners are slowly working their way into the notebook world. Toshiba, Sony and Apple Computer were the first three companies to deliver notebooks with DVD burners installed.

The manufacturers believe that consumers and businesses will use the burner-equipped notebooks as a more immediate means of capturing and distributing large files such as digital photos or videos. Previously, notebook users would have had to return home or to the office to burn a disc on a desktop PC, but now they can tote along a notebook to perform those duties.

The less expensive of the two new machines, the new Satellite 2405-S305, will start at $2,099, and come with a 15-inch screen and a 60GB hard drive. The price is several hundred dollars lower than that of Toshiba's previous DVD burner notebook, the Satellite 5205-S703, which cost $2,699, and is closing in on the average price of a notebook sold at retail, which is around $1,400.

The Satellite 2405 is based on Toshiba's popular Satellite 1905 and includes many of the same features, including a 2.4GHz desktop Pentium 4 processor, 512MB of RAM and 802.11b wireless networking. The Satellite 1905 started out at $1,999 last October, but now sells for around $1,599 after rebates.

Meanwhile, Toshiba's new Satellite 1955-S805 pairs the DVD burner with the company's trademark 16-inch screen and a detachable wireless keyboard. The Satellite 1955 will start at $2,299, a significantly lower price than the previous version of the model, despite the addition of the drive. Last October, the previous model sold for $2,799.

In September, Sony announced its first DVD-burning Vaio notebook models.

The more recent Vaio PCG-GRZ660 model pairs a DVD burner with a 2.4GHz Pentium 4, 512MB of RAM, a 40GB hard drive and a 15-inch screen. It sells for $1,999. Meanwhile, the Vaio NV200 series, which is sold directly to customers, includes a DVD burner for a price that starts at $1,699, after rebates. It pairs a DVD burner with a 15-inch screen and a 1.7GHz Pentium 4-M processor.

Apple added a DVD burner to its PowerBook line in November.

Dell Computer and Hewlett-Packard, two of the other top notebook sellers, have chosen to wait for a different DVD burner format. The companies are skipping DVD-RW and instead will offer mobile DVD+RW drives. The mobile DVD+RW drives are expected sometime this quarter.