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New ThinkPads bigger, better

IBM will ship new high-end ThinkPads in the second quarter which set the standard for this year's high-end notebooks.

IBM (IBM) will ship new high-end ThinkPads in the second quarter which set the standard for this year's high-end notebooks.

The ThinkPad 760XD and 765D will be IBM's most feature-rich ThinkPads to date and boast 166-MHz MMX processors, 3GB hard disk drives, and desktop-size liquid crystal display (LCD) screens as large as 13.3 inches, according to sources.

The 760XD is set to ship in April and will be the first IBM ThinkPad to use Intel's 166-MHz MMX mobile Pentium processor.

The 760XD will come with 32MB of memory, a 3GB hard disk drive, an 8X CD-ROM drive, and a 1024-by-768 dot (XGA) resolution active-matrix LCD screen. Prices are expected to range between $6,200 and $6,400, according to sources.

Later in the second quarter, IBM is expected to roll out the 765D, sources confirmed. This will boast a 13.3-inch active-matrix screen, in addition to many of the features found in the 760XD. Pricing for the 765D is expected to be a few hundred dollars more than the 760XD.

At the high end of the market in 1997, notebooks with 13-inch LCDs, large-capacity hard disk drives, and integrated CD-ROM drives, ranging from 8X to 16X speeds, should be the norm.

On the processor front, 166-MHz MMX mobile Pentium processors will be the fastest offerings, though some manufactures will try to push the envelope on processor performance by inserting desktop-class 200-MHz MMX Pentium processors into notebooks. These notebooks, however, typically run very hot since current 200-MHz Pentium MMX processors are not designed for notebook PCs.

Other companies like AMS are already offering 200-MHz MMX notebooks with 13.3-inch active-matrix LCDs. The AMS TravelPro 2020 also comes with Zoom Video support, for high-performance video playback, and "Smart Bays" which can take a CD-ROM drive, a floppy drive, or a battery back. The 2020 is priced at about $5,295.

Later in the year, Intel will introduce 200- and 233-MHz MMX mobile Pentium processors, giving a much-needed performance boost to notebook PCs vis-a-vis desktop PCs which, by that time, will come with 233- and 266-MHz Pentium II processors.