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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Tech Industry

New lines will raise bar for notebooks

New notebook PCs will steal much of the show at the PC Expo this week.

A bevy of new notebook PCs are set to steal the limelight at the PC Expo trade show in New York this week.

Toshiba, Texas Instruments, Compaq Computer, and Acer America are all slated to announce new notebook lines introducing technologies that significantly raise the bar on both performance and features.

The new breed of notebooks will feature new, cutting-edge features such as:

--high-end 64-bit and 128-bit graphics chips
--"Zoomed Video" technology for displaying full-motion video
--integrated 28.8-kbps modems
--desktop-class 32-bit Card Bus PC Card slots to replace the old 16-bit PCMCIA PC Card slots
--LCD screens equal in size to desktop CRT screens.

Notebook market leader Toshiba will lead off with the introduction of the new Tecra 500 series of high mid-range notebooks, new Satellite Pro and Satellite value notebooks, and a revamped Portege subnotebook.

The new 4.8-pound Portege 650CT is a much-needed replacement for the current Portege, which has been losing its appeal in the market because of its relatively old and underpowered 90-MHz Pentium processor and a small 9.5-inch LCD screen.

In contrast, the Portege 650CT will include a 133-MHz Mobile Pentium processor, 256KB pipelined burst level-2 cache, 16MB EDO RAM, 16-bit audio, an 11.3-inch active-matrix SVGA display, and a 1.26GB hard disk drive (HDD).

On top of a more powerful basic configuration, it will also include new technologies like the Chips and Technologies HiQVideo 64-bit PCI graphics chip with 2MB Extended Data Out (EDO) DRAM, Zoomed Video support, and 32-bit Card Bus PC Card slots.

Like other new offerings from Toshiba, the Portege will come bundled with Windows 95 or Windows 3.11, Syncro Multimedia Connect, Mediamatics MPEG Arcade Player, America Online, Compuserve, and Netscape Navigator.

The 650CT is expected to be priced around $4,500.

The new line of Tecra 500s will be represented by a flagship 500 CDT to replace its current 700 series of Tecras. The 500 CDT will feature a PCI bus, a 120MHz Mobile Pentium processor, a 256KB level-2 cache, a 12.1" SVGA active-matrix display, a 6X CD-ROM drive, a 1.26GB hard disk drive, a 64-bit PCI graphics chip, Zoomed Video support, an integrated 28.8-kbps fax modem, and two 32-bit PC Card slots.

The system will weight just under eight pounds and cost just under $5,000.

The Tecra 500CS is similar to the 500 CDT but uses a 12.1-inch dual-scan SVGA display and will be priced at just under $4,000.

At the low end of Toshiba's new line, the new Satellite 110CT will feature a Pentium 100-MHz processor, 11.3-inch active-matrix SVGA display, and a 772MB HDD for an estimated retail price of $2,799.

Meanwhile, Texas Instruments will announce its TravelMate 6000 line, the long-awaited upgrade to its current TravelMate 5000 series. The 6000 series notebook will weigh just under 6 pounds and is designed to be modular so that users can add devices like CD-ROM drives or other batteries.

With the 6000, for example, the TravelMate series will for the first time have bays that can accommodate swappable CD-ROM drives, batteries, and floppy disk drives, sources said.

The 6000 series will come with a 12.1-inch active-matrix display--a first for TI--32-bit Card Bus PC Card slots, Zoom Video ports, and will be "DSP-ready, sources said.

Other features will include 1.08GB or 1.35GB hard disk drives, 11.3-inch or 12.1-inch SVGA active-matrix displays, an integrated 28.8-kbps modem, a new Cirrus Logic PCI graphics controller, and 16-bit SoundBlaster Pro16 audio with 3D Spatializer sound.

The first model out the door, the TravelMate 6020, will ship this month with a price of about $4,200, while the 6030 will become available in July at a street price of just under $5,000.

As for Acer, it will haul out new AcerNote Nuovo premium notebooks to replace the AcerNote Light series.

The AcerNote Nuovos will feature a 133-MHz Pentium processor, a 1.2GB HDD, 11.3-inch dual-scan or 11.8-inch active-matrix displays, a NeoMagic 128-bit PCI graphics controller, a modular 3.5" floppy drive, a modular 6X CD-ROM, two 32-bit PC Card slots, and an integrated DSVD (Digital Simultaneous Voice and Data) 28.8Kbps PC Card modem.

The AcerNote Nuovos will be available in August at an estimated street price of just under $4,000.