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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Tech Industry

Notebook prices heading south

HP cuts OmniBook prices to 14.6 percent, while Fujitsu launches a low-cost blitz with a $1,499 system that includes a 166-MHz Pentium MMX chip.

Notebook prices are following desktop prices south for the winter as Hewlett-Packard (HWP) today cut prices on its Omnibook line of notebooks up to 14.6 percent and Fujitsu launched a low-cost notebook blitz with a $1,499 system that includes a 166-MHz Pentium MMX processor.

Hewlett-Packard's (HP) low-cost model, the OmniBook 2000CT, comes

HP's OmniBook 3000
HP's OmniBook 3000
with a 133-MHz Pentium MXX processor, a 2GB hard disk drive, and a 12.1-inch active-matrix LCD screen. It will now sell for an estimated street price of $1,585, easily one of the least expensive notebooks on the market equipped with a high-quality active-matrix screen.

Fujitsu, a vendor whose notebook fortunes have been on the rise, is also getting aggressive on price. The company found itself situated among the top ten notebook vendors in 1997, according to International Data Corporation, and is making a big push in the retail channel with the introduction of the LifeBook 765DX, which will retail for $1,499.

HP's notebook prospects are also bright. Though it was marked as a slumbering giant in the notebook arena for some time, last year HP began to reinvigorate its notebook division and saw its fortunes improve with the introduction of several new models. The company also stepped up its schedule for implementing prices cuts to more closely track competitors' prices--the Omnibooks have seen four rounds of price cuts in the past five months.

Other price cuts in the latest round include the HP OmniBook 5700CT, which received the largest price cut, a 14.6 percent reduction. The notebook, targeted for use in corporate settings, comes with a 166-MHz Pentium MXX processor, a 3GB hard disk drive, and a 12.1-inch dual-scan display. HP estimates a street price of $2,620 for the notebook.

Other models include the OmniBook 3000CTX, which comes with a 233-MHz Pentium MMX processor, a 4GB hard disk drive, and a 13.3-inch active-matrix display. The 3000CTX now carries an estimated street price of $3,485.

HP is set to refresh its fleet of notebook PCs in the spring and come out with, among other models, a "thin and wide" series that will be similar in size to IBM's popular 560 ThinkPads, as previously reported.

The debut will coincide with Intel's release of the first versions of the Pentium II processor for mobile computers. The mobile Pentium IIs will initially run at 233 MHz and 266 MHz.

Fujitsu's $1,499 model comes with 12.1-inch "high contrast" dual-scan display, 166-MHz Pentium MMX processor, a 2GB hard disk drive, a 20X CD-ROM drive, and a built-in 56-kbps modem to compete against the likes of Compaq and Toshiba, which have themselves introduced a number of low-cost notebooks this year.

Industry analysts expect the largest growth in the notebook market to come this year from sales of sub-$2,000 systems through retail superstores.

The 765DX will be available at various retailers including CompUSA, Computer City, Best Buy, and Fry's, according to Fujitsu.