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MAG joins mini-notebook race

The company enters a hot market with a sub-$1,000, ultrasmall notebook that features a full-size keyboard.

    MAG Portables, a unit of a company best known for its monitors, announced today that it is shipping an ultrasmall notebook with the price of one model falling below $1,000.

    TinyNote 200TNS subnotebook
    MAG Portables' 3.4lb TinyNote 200TNS subnotebook

    MAG is joining a growing array of ultraportable notebook vendors with a new 3.6 pound notebook that features a full-size keyboard and 200-MHz Media GX processor from Cyrix.

    MAG entered the notebook market last year with a line of full-size notebooks, but the "TinyNote" series notebooks represents the company's first foray into the growing market for ultraportable computers which run the Windows 98 operating system.

    The Tiny Note includes an 8-inch dual scan LCD screen, 16MB of memory, and a 2GB hard disk drive for $999, and another system comes with 32MB of memory and a 56-kbps modem, available for $1,149. Next month, the company will offer a version with an 8.4-inch active matrix display.

    Industry analysts say the demand for ultraportable computers--slimmer and lighter than full-fledged notebooks--has been growing. In response, PC vendors have been offering an increasing number of models in an attempt to hit it big in a market that is still limited to about 10 percent of the overall notebook market, according to research firm Dataquest.

    MAG, for instance, is offering a full-sized keyboard on its ultraportable, while vendors such as Sony are offering lighter systems with smaller keyboards.

    Some, like Gateway with its recently introduced Solo 3100, are offering smallish systems with 12.1-inch or larger displays and built-in CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drives which weigh in between 5 and 6 pounds.

    Others such as NEC, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, and Sharp Electronics are all expected to offer by 1999 a design that's similar to Sony's 3.0 pound VAIO 505 series notebooks, but use Microsoft's recently introduced Windows CE Pro for handhelds instead.

    The new version of CE has enabled designs that feature larger keyboards and displays than the previous generation CE handhelds. CE handhelds offer longer battery life than Windows 95 or 98-based notebooks, but suffer from some tradeoffs in terms of application compatibility.

    Still, some industry observers believe these enhanced handhelds, which are being priced around the $1,000 mark, will be user-friendly enough to begin supplanting notebook computers.