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Demand drives larger laptop screens

Both Compaq and Gateway are rolling out new versions of their notebooks with larger, easier-to-read screens.

Both Compaq (CPQ) and Gateway (GTW) announced today at Comdex that they are rolling out new versions of their notebooks with larger, easier-to-read screens.

According to a recent survey from International Data Corporation, almost three-quarters of notebook users use their portable computer as their primary PC. Because of this, user demand has been growing for a solution to the headaches and eye strain created by many notebooks' small screens.

In addition, with 14.1-inch screens on notebooks offering a larger viewable area than regular 15-inch monitors, the trend of replacing desktop PCs and monitors with powerful, big-screen laptops is an even more viable option.

Compaq is releasing new versions of its Armada 7700 and Armada 7300 line of notebooks. The 7700, which weighs around 8 pounds, now offers a 13.3-inch screen with a new integrated AC adapter and up to 32MB of RAM. The Armada 7300 notebooks, which weigh around 6 pounds, have a new 12.1-inch screen with a single battery support and an external AC adapter. Some models of the new Armada will start at $4,999.

According to Mark Vena, director of mobile product marketing for Compaq, the PC maker is responding to requests from customers who wanted to use their notebooks for regular applications like spreadsheets and Web publishing.

The new notebooks are aimed at "a lot of sales-type users who are consistently using their notebooks," said Vena.

Gateway has also announced the immediate availability of the 13.3-inch display on the Gateway Solo 2300, with 14.1 inch displays to be available on the Gateway Solo 9100 at the end of the month.

Bob Moore, senior marketing manager for Gateway, said the 14.1-inch display will become standard for all of the company's notebooks sometime next year.

Both the 13.3-inch screens and the 14.1-inch screens use XGA LCDs that allow the screen to display a larger viewable area. For example, a spreadsheet user will be able to see more columns on the XGA screen because of the finer resolution.

Moore believes that the growing demand for larger, higher-quality displays comes from more consumers using their notebooks as their primary computers and as presentation systems. However, he added that the 14.1-inch screen is as large as the Gateway notebooks will go right now.

"So far, this is the largest that we're going to consider for a while," Moore said. "You start to push the limits once you go past 14 inches."