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Toshiba notebook offers 17-inch screen

The company launches its Satellite P25 with a 17-inch wide-angle display, the largest screen it has offered to date. But does the view balance out the increased size and weight?

Toshiba is offering a much wider view with its newest Satellite notebook PC.

The company on Tuesday launched a new Satellite P25 with a 17-inch, wide-angle display, the largest screen it has offered to date.

The P25, which will start at $2,099, is the first Windows notebook from a brand-name manufacturer to come with a 17-inch wide-angle display. Apple Computer was first to reach the 17-inch mark earlier this year with its big-screen PowerBook.

Toshiba said it designed the P25 as a replacement for a desktop PC. Along with its larger display, the notebook includes a DVD burner and a 2.8GHz Pentium 4 processor with hyperthreading technology. It also sports 512MB of RAM, a 60GB hard drive, an Nvidia GeForce FX Go5200 graphics card and built-in 802.11b wireless networking.

"We're looking at this as a true desktop replacement in every aspect," said Carl Pinto, director of product marketing for Toshiba. With a 2.8GHz Pentium 4, a DVD burner and a built-in 17-inch screen, he said, "you pretty much have everything you need on the go."

The Satellite's 17-inch panel offers a maximum resolution of 1,440 by 900 pixels, Toshiba said. Because it also offers a wide-angle view, users can arrange two documents side by side for viewing or editing. Screen size and the amount of data a screen can present are important factors for consumers and small businesses evaluating notebook computers.

The variety of notebook screens is increasing as new screen sizes and formats have begun working their way into the market. While 15-inch displays are by far the most popular, a number of manufacturers offer notebooks with 16-inch screens, and others have begun selling notebooks with 15.4-inch displays. Several companies, including Hewlett-Packard, are working on 17-inch screen notebook models as well. HP's is expected later in the year.

But a larger display also usually dictates a larger, heavier chassis. The Satellite P25 measures 16.4 inches high by 11.5 inches wide and 1.8 inches thick, making it the largest notebook in Toshiba's inventory. It's also the heaviest, weighing in at 9.9 pounds--3.1 pounds more than Apple's 17-inch PowerBook, though it costs $1,200 less.

Toshiba argues that the P25 is still smaller and more easily moved or stowed than a typical desktop, its point of comparison. But when compared to a typical consumer or small-business desktop PC fitted with a 2.8GHz Pentium 4 with hyperthreading, a DVD burner and a 17-inch flat-panel display, the Toshiba notebook is still commanding a hefty premium for mobility. Such a desktop costs between about $1,500 and $1,700--several hundred dollars less than the P25. Many smaller-screen notebooks pitched as desktop replacements sell for a much smaller premium, if any, over a similar desktop.

Still, many consumers and small-business owners have agreed to pay the premium. Desktop replacement notebooks, also known as desknotes, have sold well at retail over the past year and a half, according to analysts. Sales surprised many companies, including Intel, which at one time predicted the desknote would die out quickly.

Following Toshiba and HP, Dell Computer, Gateway, Sony and even IBM now all offer at least one desknote model. Intel has also shifted its mobile Pentium 4 processor to address the trend. Its newest mobile Pentium 4, available at speeds of up to 3.06GHz, is now closer to the desktop Pentium 4 in both price and performance. But the mobile Pentium 4 processor does not yet offer hyperthreading or an 800MHz bus, found in the latest desktop Pentium 4 chips.

Future versions of the new Satellite P25 may incorporate Microsoft's Windows XP Media Center Edition software. Media Center software includes a user interface that allows consumers to access multimedia files such as DVD movies.

"We see this as an ideal platform for things like watching TV or videos," Pinto said.