Pentium II notebooks arrive

Most of the industry's top notebook PC manufacturers showcased the first mobile computers using Intel's Pentium II processor at prices considered low for high-end systems.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
4 min read
Most of the industry's top notebook PC manufacturers showcased the first mobile computers using Intel's (INTC) Pentium II processor today, at historically low price levels for systems with the latest and greatest technology.

Compaq, Dell Computer, Toshiba, Gateway 2000, Digital Equipment, NEC Computer Systems, and Hitachi all unveiled notebooks and other technology equipped with the newest and fastest of Intel's chips. (Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.)

Dell systems are coming in at prices as much as $1,500 less than it historically has offered its highest end notebooks, company executives said.

The Inspiron notebooks, which target consumers and small

Pentium II notebooks
Vendor Processor Price
Acer 266-MHz $3,999
Compaq 266-MHz $5,199
Dell 233-MHz $2,699
Digital 266-MHz $3,999
Fujitsu 266-MHz $4,999
Gateway 233-MHz $2,899
HP 266-MHz $4,900
Hitachi 233-MHz $2,999
IBM 233-MHz $3,000
Toshiba 233-MHz $3,500
businesses, include a system with a 233-MHz Pentium II processor priced at only $2,699. Before, top-of-the-line Dell notebook technology debuted at just under $4,000, Dell said.

In the redesigned Dell Latitude line of thin notebooks, corporate users can get a notebook with a 233-MHz Pentium II processor and a 12.1-inch active-matrix display priced at $2,999. Dell has included new "heat pipe" technology to keep the system running cool and has opted to use Intel's newest mobile "module," a small circuit board which includes most of the core electronics of a notebook PC.

Dell also noted that customers can expect only a modest performance boost of about 10 percent over systems with the older 233- and 266-MHz Pentium MMX processors. This relatively small performance boost is also a point brought up by analysts.

Dell said the new systems are scheduled to ship later this month.

Direct marketer Gateway 2000 unveiled four new models.

Gateway will target the corporate market with two new models in the 9100 series. The 9100 SE will offer a 233-MHz Pentium II processor, 4GB hard drive, and a removable CD-ROM/floppy drive for $3,499, while the 9100XL adds the 266-MHz Pentium II processor, extra memory, a larger hard disk drive, and a DVD-ROM drive for $4,699.

Gateway 2000 said it will offer customers who purchase a new Gateway system a coupon allowing them to upgrade to Windows 98 when the new operating system becomes available.

The company has decided to make extra-large notebook displays more prevalent in its lineup and will go with 14.1-inch active matrix displays on all of its new models, including the midrange 5100 series. A 5100SE with 233-MHz Pentium II processor, 2GB hard drive, and CD-ROM is priced at $2,899, while a system with a 266-MHz processor, a 4GB hard drive, more memory, and a modem is priced at $3,899.

NEC Computer Systems debuted its

An NEC Pentium II-based notebook
An NEC Pentium II-based notebook
new thin-and-wide Versa notebook design, weighing under 5.0 pounds. It comes with an ultrathin display and integrates a 233- or 266-MHz Pentium II. The new notebook is only 1.3 inches thick. Pricing will be announced with the product's release later this spring, the company said.

Hitachi's VisionBook Pro 7330 and 7550 notebooks will be powered by 233-MHz and 266-MHz processors and priced starting at $2,999, according to the company. The 7330 system using the 233-MHz processor will feature a 3.2GB hard drive, and a 12.1-inch display.

Compaq rolled out its new flagship notebook, the Armada 7800, which features a 266-MHz Pentium II processor. It is priced starting at $5,199, inordinately high compared to prices offered by other vendors.

The system features a high-end 3D graphics chip based on technology from S3, support for Intel's Advanced Graphics Port, 64MB of high-speed memory, a 13.3-inch active-matrix display, and a CD-ROM. The new system will come with Microsoft Windows 98, Windows 95, or Windows NT Workstation 4.0.

Another new system offering AGP graphics support is the LifeBook 990Tx2. The system comes with a 266-MHz Pentium II processor, 32MB of memory, a 5.0GB hard drive, a 13.3-inch display, and CD-ROM for $4,999. The notebook is expected to be available in May.

Market leader Toshiba introduced a number of systems, including a Satellite Pro 490CDT equipped with a 233-MHz Pentium II processor and a 12.1-inch active matrix display for $3,549.

As reported yesterday, Digital's HiNote VP 765 notebook will be powered by a 266-MHz mobile Pentium II processor. Also including a 13-3-inch active-matrix screen, a CD-ROM, and a hot-swappable 4GB hard drive, the portable is priced starting at $3,999.

Today's Pentium II launch has received considerable hype for the past few weeks, but some analysts are beginning to voice concerns about the chip's high power consumption. Others believe that there will be a surplus of the older Pentium-based portables due to the flood of Pentium II systems hitting the street today.