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Compaq unveils new notebooks

The PC maker introduces a new MMX Pentium-based notebook computer that replaces the long-standing corporate flagship LTE line.

Compaq Computer (CPQ) today introduced a new MMX Pentium-based notebook computer that replaces the long-standing corporate flagship LTE line.

Given the growing popularity of notebooks as replacements for desktop PCs, the new 7700 comes with both Windows NT and Windows 95 operating systems preloaded, allowing customers to choose which best suits their needs.

The offering indicates that Windows NT may become a more widely used operating system for notebooks in corporate settings. Windows NT is not as popular on notebooks because it does not include built-in support for PC Cards or power management.

However, more firms are including utilities that endow NT with the same support for notebooks that Windows 95 has. What NT offers in return is a fully 32-bit OS that is faster and more stable.

Also highlighting the 7700s positioning as a desktop replacement is the docking station, which can be placed in an upright position. The station can also be locked to prevent the notebook and its components (including PC Cards) from being removed. The ArmadaStation docking station also integrates ethernet networking capabilities and support for a floppy drive or CD-ROM and second hard drive.

Compaq says the audience for the Armada 7700 are corporate executives or "power" users needing the ability to do multimedia presentations.

The Armada 7700 is available with a 150- or 166-MHz multimedia MMX Pentium processor, a 12.1-inch active-matrix display, two 32-bit CardBus expansion slots, and up to a 2.1GB hard drive. The system incorporates a new 64-bit graphics subsystem, which enables users to show presentation material on any external display simultaneously.

Compaq says the pricing of the 7700 starts at $4,999 and is available immediately. The ArmadaStation docking station will retail for $899, and an optional expansion base for vertical placement of the docking station is an extra $99.

"This is a reasonable, solid product. They seemed to have answered issues in terms of basic functionality--what happens when they start shipping is the important question now," according to Mike McGuire, a mobile products analyst with Dataquest. "There were some quality issues with the LTE, and in the meanwhile, our worldwide numbers showed that IBM jumped to the number two position in notebook sales. Compaq is responding. This is one of the area's they cant afford to have a misstep in," he says.