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Compaq phasing out HiNote notebook line

The cutting-edge, anorexic look of thin notebooks has become one of the hottest trends, but it came too late for the HiNote, the line that started it all.

The cutting-edge, anorexic look of thin notebooks has become one of the hottest trends for PC makers, but it came too late for the HiNote, the line that started it all.

Compaq notebook executives said last week that the Armada 6500, the last of Digital Equipment's pioneering HiNote models, will be

Portege 7000CT
Toshiba Portege is similar to original HiNote design
phased out over the next few months. The world's leading PC maker believes the portable doesn't have a place in its already-crowded notebook lineup. Ironically, this was considered one of the best notebook designs ever and one of the technological gems that Compaq inherited from Digital Equipment.

Today, both Sony and Toshiba announced new, faster versions of their less-than-one-inch-thick notebooks.

Back in 1995, Digital introduced its four-pound HiNote Ultra, a considerable feat since materials technology wasn't quite as far along and components too tended to weigh more. The startlingly slim design won many industry accolades, just as the Toshiba Portege 7000, Sony Vaio 500, and the Mitsubishi Pedion do today.

The HiNote evolved into the Ultra II and more recently the Ultra 2000. The latter design was inherited by Compaq when it purchased Digital last year.

Compaq left the design intact but renamed it the Armada 6500. Though wider and a bit heavier than the original HiNote--it was made to accommodate a large 14-inch screen, a CD-ROM drive bay, and faster Pentium II chips--today it is still a novel, head-turning design.

However, others have stepped in to take the lead in slimline notebook design: Sony said today it will offer a new 3-pound Vaio 505 model with Intel's fastest Pentium MMX notebook chip to date. The 505, packing a 300-MHz chip, will also come with an extra-bright polySilicon-based active-matrix LCD screen, measuring 10.4 inches across (the same size of the screen on the Digital Ultra II), 64MB of memory, and a 6.4GB hard drive for $2,499.

Meanwhile, Toshiba?s 4.1-pound 7020 CT Portege will now carry a 366-MHz Pentium II chip, a 13.3-inch screen, and 6.4GB hard drive. It starts at $3,699.

But Compaq has not given up on the ultrathin design, as the company today upgraded its recently introduced 1900 series Presario notebook. The highly compact Presario is 1.2 inches thick and offers a 366-MHz Pentium II, 13.3-inch screen, and 10GB hard drive. Prices start at $2,499.

Compaq will continue to make the Armada 6500 until March or April, a Compaq notebook executive said last week. The Armada, with a 300-MHz Pentium II processor, a 14.1-inch active-matrix LCD screen, 6.4GB hard drive, 64MB of memory, and a CD-ROM drive is currently priced at $3,800 at resellers such as Computer Discount Warehouse and NECX. .