Digital unveils "big screen" portable

Its new HiNote Ultra 2000 has panoramic, 14.1-inch LCD displays, equivalent in screen real estate to a 15-inch desktop CRT monitors.

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Digital is set to ship one of the first of a new breed of portables that have panoramic, 14.1-inch LCD displays, which are equivalent in screen real estate to a 15- or some 17-inch desktop CRT monitors.

The new HiNote Ultra 2000 will be ahead of the curve, in as much as the largest screens available in notebooks so far this year are 13.3-inch displays. About 10 percent of the notebooks shipped this year will have 13.3-inch displays, while the majority of notebooks sold in 1997 will come with 12.1-inch displays, according to DisplaySearch, a market research firm covering the LCD display industry.

By 1998, users can expect 45 percent of the notebooks to be offered with 13.3-inch screens, the company says. More vendors will offer the 14.1- and 14.2-inch screens by next year, but limited availability of the displays and higher cost will mean they be used on a relatively small number of desktops. Digital expects to ship its 14.1-inch systems in limited quantity by September.

Digital says it has worked to keep the new notebook in fighting trim. Even with the larger screen, which adds weight to a system because of the extra glass, the new notebook weighs 6.2 pounds and is in a case 1.35 inches thick.

The Ultra 2000 GTX 5166M comes with a 166-MHz MMX Pentium processor, a 2.1GB hard disk drive, and a 20X CD-ROM.

Digital also introduced the VTX 5166M, which has a 12.1-inch display and a 11X CD-ROM in a package weighing slightly over five pounds.

One can also purchase a multimedia dock that attaches to the bottom of the system, offering the ability to connect to USB (Universal Serial Bus) peripherals and three built-in speakers. A third optional unit, a port replicator, provides connections to desktop peripherals and a AC power adaptor.

As is typical, two PC Card slots are available for expansion, but Digital has incorporated a third, internal PC Card slot which holds a 33.6-kbps modem that is software upgradeable to 56 kbps. The card can be replaced with a combination modem/ethernet card by a service representative, the company says.

The estimated street price for the HiNote Ultra GTX 5166M and VTX 5166M will be between $4,999 and $5,999. The multimedia dock and port replicators will be priced at $899 and $379, respectively.

The GTX 5166 with 14.1-inch screen will be available in limited quantities until later in the fourth quarter, while the VTX will be generally available in September.