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Dell to broaden Pentium M line

The PC maker gets ready to launch Inspiron 500m and thin-and-light Latitude D500 notebooks, which will offer Intel's new energy-efficient Pentium M chip.

Dell Computer is preparing several new Pentium M notebooks for businesses and consumers.

The PC maker will introduce in the near future the Inspiron 500m and the thin-and-light Latitude D500, according to sources familiar with the company's plans. The new machines will offer Intel's energy-efficient Pentium M processor, which debuted last week

The two portables will help Dell round out its lineup of new notebooks. The company earlier this month embarked on a complete redesign of its notebook line, launching six new machines.

Round Rock, Texas-based Dell's first Pentium M notebooks, which are already available, include the Inspiron 600m and Latitude D600 and D800 notebooks.

The forthcoming Inspiron 500m will be available worldwide and is expected to offer consumers an entry-level price for a Pentium M notebook, the sources said. It is expected to include a 14-inch screen, be relatively lightweight and sell for less than the 600m, which starts around $1,400. The new Latitude D500, aimed at businesses, is expected to have a similar size, shape and price, sources said.

Intel designed the Pentium M--which runs at speeds ranging from 900MHz to 1.6GHz--to consume less power than its other notebook chips. The changes should help manufacturers build thinner, lighter notebooks with longer battery life. The lower power consumption is also meant to make the portable PCs more suitable for use with wireless networks. The chip is part of Intel's push into the wireless realm with its new Centrino brand, which also includes the 855 chipset and an 802.11b networking module.

A host of manufacturers, including Dell, IBM, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard and Toshiba, unveiled Pentium M notebooks on the March 12 launch date for Centrino. The machines start at around $1,500 and deliver battery life of about five hours per charge.

Meanwhile, the finishing touches on Dell's 2003 notebook line redesign will be two small, lightweight Latitude models, the sources said. The upcoming Pentium M-based Latitude D400 is expected to weigh about 4 pounds, and an X300 system about 3 pounds. The machines, due this summer, are expected to offer 12-inch screens, the sources said.

Dell representatives declined to comment. But the PC maker has said recently that it will follow its Pentium M notebooks introduced March 12 with several new models.