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Notebooks upgrade to MMX

Computer makers finally are incorporating the multimedia MMX Pentium processor into their new notebooks.

Notebook vendors took a while to get around to it, but they are now rushing to incorporate the multimedia MMX Pentium processor in their new models.

Compaq Computer (CPQ), Hitachi PC Corporation (HIT), Micron (MUEI), and Fujitsu are the latest to release new MMX notebooks just in time for PC Expo.

The adoption of multimedia into notebooks signals the beginning of the end for "classic" Pentium processors and the beginning of all-MMX notebook lines.

Desktop PCs are ahead of notebooks in phasing out the non-MMX processors. Even with the use of MMX Pentium processors, notebooks are still chasing desktops in terms of performance. The fastest Pentium for mobile units runs at 166-MHz, while MMX Pentium desktops are available in 233-MHz versions. But notebook vendors are trying to draw ahead of the pack by integrating MMX into their systems.

Compaq is hoping to use its new low-priced Armada 1500 series notebooks and high-end, lightweight Armada 4100s to capitalize on the momentum it has built up in the U.S. market. (See related story)

The Armada 1500 family features a 133- or 150-MHz MMX Pentium processor, a 10X CD-ROM, up to a 2.1GB hard drive, and a 12.1-inch display. The new 1580DMT with an active-matrix display is priced at $3,999, while the 1530DM with dual-scan display and 1.4GB hard disk drive is priced at $2,899.

Compaq also added two models to the Armada 4100 series. The 4160T comes with a 166-MHz MMX Pentium, a 2GB hard drive, and a 12.1-inch active-matrix display. The 4150 is offered with a 150-MHz MMX Pentium, a 1.6GB hard drive, and improved dual-scan technology in a 12.1-inch monitor. An optional base unit offers a CD-ROM drive and enhanced expandability.

Hitachi PC will exhibit its new VisionBook Pro and VisionBook Elite notebook PCs at PC Expo. The new portables will have a 166-MHz MMX Pentium, an active-matrix display of up to 13.3 inches, and a 56-kbps modem that uses technology from U.S. Robotics.

The VisionBook Pro, which is being positioned as a desktop replacement, will come with removable 10X CD-ROM, 2.1GB or 3.2GB hard drive, and Zoomed Video support. It will be priced from $3,199 to $5,299, depending on configuration. The VisionBook Elite is Hitachi's ultraportable entry and has a detachable base that contains the floppy and 10X CD-ROM drive will be priced starting at $4,999.

Hitachi also introduced the VisionBook Plus series of notebooks, which feature 133- to 166-MHz MMX Pentium processors, a 10X CD-ROM, up to a 3.2GB hard disk drive, and a 12.1-inch display. Prices range from $1,899 to $3,499, depending on configuration.

Micron's new Transport XKE is one of the first notebooks to offer a 20X CD-ROM drive and comes with a 166-MHz MMX Pentium. Other features include a 12.1-inch active matrix display that can be upgraded to a 13.3-inch display. The Transport XKE is priced starting at $5,149.

Fujitsu introduced four new models in its LifeBook series of notebooks, ranging from the ultraportable 635Tx and 656Tx to the new entry-level 435Dx. The 635Tx comes with a 133-MHz MMX Pentium and the 656Tx ships with a 150-MHz MMX Pentium; prices range from $3,499 to $4,299. The 435Dx comes with a 133-MHz MMX Pentium and a 12.1-inch dual scan display for $1,999.

In related news, Compaq was busy cutting prices on existing 1100, 1500, 4100, and 7700 series notebooks by up to 14 percent. For instance, the Armada 7710MT was priced at $4,999 and is now priced at $4,399, a 12 percent reduction. The Armada 1130T was priced at $1,399 and is now priced at $1,199, a 14.3 percent discount.