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Toshiba unwraps subnotebook

Two new ultralight notebook PCs are introduced at the Spring Comdex conference.

Toshiba has introduced two new ultralight notebook PCs at the Spring Comdex conference in Atlanta, as the company brings one of the first subnotebooks of its kind to the U.S. market.

The company also expanded its line of ultracompact Portege notebooks and added a slew of new models to its Satellite series. CNET's NEWS.COM reported Toshiba's plans to introduce an ultralight notebook in the United States last week.

The Libretto 50CT is the first full-fledged Windows 95 notebook in the United States weighing less than two pounds. A similar device has been sold by Toshiba in Japan since last year.

The Libretto packs a 75-MHz Pentium processor, an 810MB hard drive, and a small active-matrix color display. The Windows 95-based device has a suggested list price of $1,999.

This will compete with Windows CE handheld computers, as well as ultraportable notebook PCs such as IBM's 560, the Hewlett-Packard OmniBook 800, and the Digital Equipment HiNote Ultra II, said Randy Giusto of International Data Corporation.

Giusto added that the Libretto falls between Windows CE handhelds and ultraportable notebooks such as Hewlett-Packard's OmniBook 800. "This is something larger than a Windows CE device. Something for more than just viewing. You can do presentations," Giusto said.

Windows CE handheld computers, by comparison, run a stripped-down version of Windows 95 and and are typically used for viewing information only. They come with non-Intel "RISC" processors and very small 4-inch-class black-and-white screens.

Toshiba is not expecting the notebook to result in huge sales, Giusto said, but the company is big enough to justify bringing this product to market. "They do about 700,000 units a quarter in the United States. So if this only does 10 percent of this, they're still shipping 70,000 units," he said.

IBM also has a similar Windows 95 ultrasmall notebook PC that is being sold in Japan, but the company has yet to market it in the United States.

Toshiba also announced a new Portege 300CT, an ultraportable notebook PC weighing 3.8 pounds. The new 300CT Portege drops the integrated CD-ROM drive, which is in the older Portege 660CDT model, but it loses about a pound in weight by doing so.

The 300CT offers much higher-end features than the Libretto, including an MMX Pentium processor, a large active-matrix screen, Universal Serial Bus support, and an optional CD-ROM docking station. The suggested list price is $3,499.

Toshiba has also upgraded the Satellite and Satellite Pro series.

The 220CDS model comes with a 133-MHz Pentium processor, a 12.1-inch 800-by-600-pixel resolution dual-scan LCD color display, a 10X CD-ROM drive, 16MB of memory, and a 1.44GB hard drive.

Toshiba has also added the Satellite Pro 400 Series, which includes the Satellite Pro 460CDT. The 460CDT comes with a Pentium 166-MHz processor with MMX technology, a 2.2GB disk drive, 32MB of high-speed memory, a 12.1-inch 800-by-600 active-matrix color display, a 10X CD-ROM drive, and an optional Zoomed Video card for processing of full-motion video. The suggested list price is $4,299.

Finally, Toshiba has added the Tecra 520CDT and 530CDT with similar features targeted at the corporate market. These systems include 166-MHz MMX Pentium processors, 2.2GB hard drives, a 10X CD-ROM drive, and a variety of docking stations. The suggested list price for the Tecra 520CDT is $4,699, and for the Tecra 530CDT, $5,099.

Most Toshiba notebooks come with an integrated modem.

"Toshiba wants to blanket every single segment," Giusto said, alluding to the barrage of announcements for product lines with similar features.