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Panasonic unveils DVD notebook

Shipping September 10, the CF-63 is the first to integrate a DVD-ROM drive.

Panasonic has introduced the first notebook PC to pack a DVD-ROM drive, a harbinger of a spate of DVD-capable notebooks coming in the next 6 to 12 months.

The notebook includes a host of other high-end features, such as a huge, 13.3-inch LCD screen and a four-speaker sound system.

Panasonic will sell it into a niche market for notebooks used for multimedia presentations. At a suggested retail price of close to $6,000, it will likely appeal only to technology enthusiasts eager to get their hands on the first DVD-capable notebook and corporate users who need a DVD player.

Most major notebook PC manufacturers will release DVD-enabled notebooks to keep up with the competition, according Gerry Purdy, chief executive of Mobile Insights, a marketing research firm. The increasing pervasiveness of DVD will likely inspire business applications that take advantage of video as well, he added.

The CF-63 model is expected to ship September 10, according to a Panasonic spokesperson.

The playback of DVD titles is done via an MPEG-2 playback chip, according to Panasonic. MPEG-2 is a standard for game and DVD title playback. (See related story.)

The DVD-ROM drive can also be used as a 20X CD-ROM drive, Panasonic said.

The CF-63 will include a 166-MHz MMX Pentium processor from Intel, a "shock-mounted" 3.24GB hard disk drive, and a 13.3-inch active-matrix LCD screen supporting resolutions up to 1024 by 768, in a sturdy magnesium case.

The notebook will also include features such as a powerful graphics chip from S3 and PCI bus architecture with 32-bit "CardBus" PC Card slots. Currently most notebook PC Card slots--which accept credit-card sized modems and network cards--offer only 16-bit support.

A four-speaker surround-sound system is integrated into the notebook.