IBM touts new, high-clarity LCDs

Big Blue says copper is the reason that the screen on the new ThinkPad 770 offers better image resolution without increasing power consumption.

Michael Kanellos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.
Michael Kanellos
2 min read
Copper isn't just for processors at IBM. Now it's going into ultra-high-resolution liquid crystal displays for Big Blue's notebooks.

IBM rolled out a top-of-the-line ThinkPad 770 today with a new type of screen that boosts image resolution without increasing weight or power consumption. The screens measure 13.7 inches, but provides a resolution of 1280-by-1024 pixels, typically the resolution found on large 17- and 21-inch CRT displays.

Cutting-edge 14-inch notebook displays from other vendors top out at a resolution of 1024 by 768.

The company also came out with a new ThinkPad 600 with improved power management capabilities and a 300-MHz Pentium II.

The boost in screen performance comes largely from a shift to copper, said Leo Suarez, director of product marketing for mobile computers at IBM. Rather than use molybdenum and tungsten wires to conduct electricity in the screen, IBM's new SXVA display relies upon copper and aluminum. More copper and aluminum wires can be packed into a given screen, he said, which means greater image density.

The viewing experience is "probably like a 17-inch monitor," Suarez added.

Copper and aluminum wiring is also cheaper, a benefit to manufacturers, and conducts electricity better than the older metals, which could improve battery life. Although currently only available on select ThinkPad 770x models, IBM wants to spread the technology to the slim ThinkPad 600 and 560 lines and even the budget ThinkPad 380s.

Other manufacturers, such as Dell are trying to improve the viewing experience by increasing the viewing area of the screen to 15 inches, but this hurts battery life and portability, Suarez added.

"We're in the mobile business," he said, taking a jab at Dell. "We're not in the luggable business or the pizza box business."

But the screen isn't cheap. A ThinkPad 770X with a 300-MHz Pentium II, an 8GB hard drive, and 64MB of memory sells for $5,399. The 770X, and a similar 770 with a standard screen, also both support the Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP), which is coming to notebooks now that Intel has released an AGP-compliant chip module.

IBM also released the ThinkPad 600E today. The new notebook improves the power management capabilities for ThinkPads running Windows NT 4.0. The notebook starts at $4,599 and comes with a 13.3-inch screen, an 8GB drive, and a 300-MHz Pentium II.