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High-end portables for Win 98

Prices on top-line Windows 98 notebooks are heading south, led by Intel cuts and new Compaq models with processors from AMD.

    Prices on top-line notebooks sporting Windows 98 are heading south, led by Intel price cuts and new Compaq Computer models incorporating processors from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).

    Two fully-loaded Compaq Presario consumer models using AMD's 266-MHz K6 chip have dipped below $2,500, while IBM, Gateway, and Compaq are shipping 266-MHz Pentium II models at prices below $3,000.

    When Intel's fast mobile chip debuted three months ago, portables incorporating the new chips typically started above $4,000. Last Monday, however, Intel cut the price of a 266-MHz Pentium II by 30 percent, the second time it discounted the chip in the second quarter.

    Meanwhile, Compaq's use of the portable K6 in new Windows 98 machines tracks the company's strategy of using the Intel-compatible chip in the desktop consumer market.

    Incorporating the K6 helps the Presario 1625 list for $2,199--or $1,999 at some online resellers--a price point that some see as the portable world's equivalent of the sub-$1,000 desktop. The new system comes with a 3.2GB hard drive and a 12.1-inch active-matrix LCD screen plus features like a CD-ROM and a high-speed modem.

    Using the same chip, the slightly more powerful Presario 1640 lists for $2,499.

    Moving slightly up the chain, a Presario 1650 with a 266-MHz Pentium II and 64MB of memory lists for $2,999. Gateway's similarly configured 2500LS goes for $2,699.

    IBM, via resellers such as CompUSA, is now selling a ThinkPad 380XD notebook with a 266-MHz Pentium II chip, 12.1-inch active-matrix screen, and a 3.2GB hard drive for $2,799.

    A Hewlett-Packard OmniBook with a 266-MHz chip comes in just under $3,000, while longtime market leader Toshiba is just under the $3,500 mark with a Satellite model.