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Dell's notebook display biggest yet

Dell is rolling out a notebook PC with a huge 15-inch liquid crystal display and panoply of other features for $2,999.

Dell Computer is rolling out a notebook PC with a gigantic 15-inch liquid crystal display and panoply of other features for $2,999 as it and vendors such as Compaq prepare to offer the latest and greatest models with the fastest notebook chips yet.

The new Dell Inspiron 7000 series, targeted at consumer and small businesses, also features advanced 3D graphics and DVD drives. Some models feature slightly smaller but still expansive 14.1-inch LCD screens. (Click here for detailed specifications)

Dell is also expected to ship new systems with Intel?s fastest notebook chip to date, the 300-MHz Pentium II.

The 300-MHz chip is slated for introduction on September 9. At that time, a host of other notebook vendors will chime in with 300-MHz notebooks, including Compaq. Compaq is expected to update its recently announced Armada 7400 and announce other slim-design notebooks, among other products.

But the real differentiater in Dell?s case is the screen, not the processor. The largest LCD shipping today on select notebooks from major vendors, such as IBM and Gateway, is 14 inches. This is roughly equivalent to a 15-inch desktop CRT monitor in viewing area.

The larger 15-inch LCD from Dell, however, approaches many 17-inch CRT monitors in viewing area, the standard size for many desktop PCs today. Dell has accommodated the extra-large screen by stretching the display so it extends over the main casing slightly. The main casing size has not been altered.

This has been an issue for notebook vendors in the past as they sought ways to accommodate these huge displays. Some vendors believe that 14 inches is the limit. The upshot is, if the main casing gets too big it's no longer a viable portable computer.

The combination of a large screen, DVD drive, and a special chip to assist in playing back DVD video will allow users to view full-screen, full-motion video, such as movies, on these extra-large screens.

Dell is also offering an advanced AGP-based graphics chips from ATI Technologies, which delivers desktop-class graphics processing power.

The price for a model with a 15-inch system display will be $2,999. The price for a system with a 266-MHz Pentium II with a 14-inch display will be $2,799.