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Canon to top notebook speed

Canon aims to be the first major vendor to ship a notebook PC with a 200-MHz Pentium processor and a 13.3-inch screen.

Canon (CANNY) is looking to take a place in the vanguard of advanced notebook designs by becoming in December the first major vendor to ship a notebook PC with a 200-MHz Pentium processor.

The notebook, however, is not expected to use the Mobile Pentium processor designed for use in notebooks because the chip won't be shipping yet. In its rush to the market, Canon is expected to instead simply go for a standard 200-MHz desktop Pentium processor, at least for the first iteration of the system.

"This is a bid to make a performance play," said Bruce Stephens, a vice president at market research firm International Data Corporation. "But there's usually a trade-off in mobility," he added, referring to the fact that notebook designs introduced in the past that use fast desktop processors have also often been relatively bulky and heavy.

In addition to matching the fastest desktop Pentium systems today in performance, the notebook will also sport a 13.3-inch active-matrix display, matching or exceeding a desktop 15-inch CRT monitor in viewing area, according to a report in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan's largest business daily.

This will be the largest LCD screen for a notebook to date. High-end notebooks with 13.3-inch screens should be introduced in the first quarter of 1997 from other vendors, said Stephens, although he expects them to be available only in limited quantities. "It will be the same old thing with these large screens: limited availability, they'll be back-ordered, and no major volume for some time," said Stephens.

Currently, the fastest notebook PCs top off at 150 MHz, while notebook LCD screens are limited to 12.1 inches in size. If Canon delivers on both the screen and the performance, it will have the the highest-performance notebook on the market. The notebook will also come with a 1.4GB hard drive and 8X CD-ROM drive.

But all that won't come cheap. The 3200 FX notebook will initially go on sale in Japan for about $6,300.