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HP, Dell to unveil new notebook class

Hewlett-Packard will unveil its first 233-MHz notebooks in a design both slimmer and lighter than current models. Dell will also have new slim models packing fast chips.

Hewlett-Packard (HWP) will unveil its first mobile 233-MHz Pentium "Tillamook"-based notebooks next week in a design that is both slimmer and lighter than HP's current OmniBook models.

Dell Computer (DELL) will also announce the Latitude CP line, a slim design accommodating processors as fast as 233 MHz and extra-large 13.3-inch active-matrix LCD screens. This line will be targeted at the corporate market.

The new HP notebooks are part of a massive effort on HP's part to refashion its place in the portable arena. Since the beginning of the year, HP has been redesigning its products and taking a more aggressive stance on product pricing to gain market share.

The OmniBook 3000 CTX series notebooks to be announced next week will come with a mobile Pentium MMX processor running at 200 MHz or 233 MHz. The 233-MHz model will come with a 4.0GB hard drive, 32MB of memory, and an optional CD-ROM drive. It will cost approximately $4500. The 200-MHz version will come with a 2.1GB hard drive and cost approximately $3,700, according to sources in the computer reselling channel.

The OmniBook 3000 models will also be slightly lighter and smaller than current high-end HP notebooks, among other design changes. The new machines will weigh approximately 6.8 pounds with a CD-ROM drive, rather than 7.7 pounds, and measure close to 1.7 inches thick, rather than 1.9 inches thick.

HP showed a prototype of the computer on September 8 at Intel's coming out party for the 200-MHz and 233-MHz Pentium MMX processors for mobile computers.

Besides running at higher clock speeds than previous Intel mobile processors, the new chips consume less power and are sold on a modular unit that allows users to upgrade processors without changing machines.

Anecdotal evidence suggests the company's effort to build sales and brand awareness around its notebooks appears to be paying off. A number of resellers told NEWS.COM in June that HP had not been a major brand for them in the past, but that sales were picking up. Price cuts during the summer and fall have helped fuel sales since.

"HP notebooks have grown pretty extensively," said Steve Cohan, president of Entre Computer Center, a Denver reseller, after a recent price cut. "They've always been behind other vendors in bringing new features and prices."

In the first quarter of 1998, HP will release its version of the ultraslim notebook designed in tandem with Mitsubishi. The 3.1-pound notebook will be approximately 18.4 millimeters thick and contain 200-MHz and 233-MHz processors. The notebook sports a magnesium shell.

Mitsubishi will release its version of the ultraslim notebook, called the Pediom, in Japan next month and showcase the machine at Comdex in Las Vegas. The Pediom will start at roughly $4,900.

Meanwhile, the new Dell notebooks will come in a slim 1.5-inch design, similar to Compaq's 7300 series of thin notebooks.

Both the Dell Latitude CP notebooks and the Compaq 7300 series are targeted at the large corporate buyer and both feature a highly modular design, where CD-ROM drives can be swapped out for floppy drives. Dell goes this one step further, however, making available both "bays" for batteries, allowing 6-8 hours of use without recharging.

Prices will start at $3,499 for a system with a 166-MHz MMX Pentium, a CD-ROM drive, a 2.1GB hard drive, and a 12.1-inch active-matrix LCD screen.

Dell also recently introduced the Inspiron line of notebooks, targeted mostly at individuals looking for the latest and greatest multimedia and high-end computing features in a notebook.