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Toshiba notebook to read DVDs, burn CDs

The company plans to unveil four new corporate notebooks, including one with a built-in CD/DVD/CD-rewritable drive.

Toshiba plans to unveil four notebooks Monday, including one with a built-in CD/DVD/CD-rewritable drive.

Toshiba plans to announce the four new notebooks Monday. Three will be immediately available; the fourth, the Satellite 2805 with the three-in-one drive, will go on sale in mid-February.

The PC manufacturer will also kick off its wire-free initiative on Monday, discounting the installation of a wireless 802.11b-based network until Sept. 30. If the customer is not satisfied with the network, Toshiba said it will refund the money.

Mostafa Maarouf, a Gartner analyst, called the wireless initiative an "aggressive marketing campaign." But he added that it may only help the company in the short term.

"The PC market is saturated, so manufacturers need to differentiate themselves," Maarouf said. "Soon Toshiba's competitors will also be offering their customers similar programs, so it will turn out to be a wash."

Of the four notebooks that will be announced on Monday, the Satellite 2805 has the highest number of new features.

One configuration of the Satellite 2805 will come with a combination CD/DVD/CD-rewritable drive, the company said. It will also have a SmartMedia card reader and use the Nvidia GeForce2 graphics chip with 16MB of graphics memory. According to company representatives, the graphics memory will be upgraded to 32MB by the summer.

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The CD/DVD/CD-RW drive will be available as an option in other Toshiba notebooks. Toshiba is also eyeing DVD recordable capabilities. But because there are several DVD-recordable formats on the table, the company is hesitant to commit to any single format right now.

"We'll include a DVD-R drive once a standard has been set," said Mike Wagner, vice president of marketing at Toshiba.

The Satellite 2805 will also come with Ethernet, FireWire and modem connections. Various configurations of the Satellite will include an 850MHz or 700MHz Pentium III processor from Intel, as well as 14.1-inch or 15-inch active-matrix displays. The notebooks will cost either $1,799 or $2,749, depending on the configuration.

Toshiba will also update its flagship notebook line, the Tecra 8200, which will include integrated 802.11b technology and a 14.1-inch active-matrix screen. The unit will be available with 850MHz or 750MHz Pentium III processors and a DVD or CD-ROM drive. The two configurations will cost either $2,849 or $3,399.

A new Satellite Pro is also on the way, the 4600. The Satellite Pro will be available with any of three Pentium III processors, the 850MHz, 800MHz or 750MHz. It will also come with either a 15-inch or 14.1-inch active-matrix display and will cost $2,149, $2,549 or $2,899.

The Satellite 1700 series will come with Intel's 700MHz Celeron chip and either a 13-inch dual-screen display or a 13.3 active-matrix screen. It will cost $1,199 or $1,399.