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Compaq to join rivals with thin notebook

Later this month, Compaq will join other American firms competing to meet Japanese demand for lightweight portables.

Later this month, Compaq Computer will join American rivals competing to meet Japanese demand for lightweight notebooks.

Following Gateway's

Portege 7000CT
Toshiba Portege 7000CT
September entry, Compaq will unveil a Presario model that aims to tap surging sales of ultrathin portables. The Presario 1915 will cost 310,000 yen, or about $2,600, according to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, a Japanese business daily.

Both Toshiba and Sony have recently come out with ultrathin notebooks less than an inch thick.

Slim IBM notebooks have long been top-sellers in the world's No. 2 computer market. Big Blue's ThinkPad 560 was one of the first popular thin notebooks while the ultrathin HiNote from Digital Equipment (now a part of Compaq) was a breakthrough product back in 1995 and was an instant hit in Japan.

Dell too plans to join the chase. Japan accounts for less than 10 percent of the world computer market, but makes up 25 percent of notebook sales and particularly loves slim and lightweight models.

"The Japanese like small, compact notebooks," International Data Corporation analysts Takahiko Umeyama earlier told CNET "That's why the [Sony] Vaio has been such a hit."

Sony, which had virtually no presence in the Japanese notebook market through most of the decade, has recently zoomed to become one of the market leaders because of its ultrathin Vaio 505. The sub-$2,000 Pentium MMX-based system is thinner than ordinary portables but has roughly the same width and breadth, or footprint.

A tale of three notebooks
'Extreme' ultraportable notebooks

10.4-inch to 12.1-inch display
3.0 to 4.5 lbs
Pentium MMX or Pentium II processor
Lightest systems have reduced-size keyboard
No CD-ROM or floppy drive

'Full-function' ultraportable notebooks

12.1-inch to 13.3-inch display
5.0 to 5.5 pounds
Pentium II processor
Full-size keyboard
Built-in bay for CD-ROM or floppy drive

Two reviews from CNET

IBM ThinkPad 600, a 'full-function' ultraportable
Sharp Actius PC-A100, an 'extreme' ultraportable

The Presario 1915 will measure 31 millimeters in thickness (about 1.2 inches) and weigh 2.1 kilograms (about 4.6 pounds), according to Nikkei. The system will incorporate a 266-Mhz Pentium II processor and a DVD player among other multimedia and Internet features.

It will also be the first Compaq home computer to be released initially in the Japanese market.'s Tom Dunlap contributed to this story.