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Gateway notebook gets Pentium II

The direct vendor loads a mobile Pentium II chip, DVD drive, and a larger screen into a high-end portable while marking it down.

Gateway (GTW) added a mobile Pentium II processor, a DVD drive, and a larger screen to a high-end portable while reducing its price.

The revised Solo 9100XL comes with Intel's new 266-MHz Pentium II chip, a DVD drive, and a 14.1-inch active-matrix screen for an estimated retail price of $4,699. Last December, the system incorporated a 233-MHz Pentium MMX chip, a CD-ROM drive, and a 13.3-inch screen for a very pricey $5,799.

Designed for corporate users, the system also comes with a 64MB of memory (double the standard allocation), a 56-kbps modem, and a 5GB hard drive, plus two batteries.

Many top-of-the-line notebooks using the mobile Pentium II are expected to quickly come down in price as memory, hard drives, and LCD screen prices hit historic lows. Already, another Gateway Pentium II portable--albeit less feature laden--is selling for $2,899, as much as $1,200 less than the price point where top-of-the-line notebooks used to debut.

Significantly, Gateway is employing the module version of the mobile Pentium II, which allows the South Dakota direct vendor to incorporate Intel's top-flight portable chip without a major redesign. The module is a small circuit board containing the Pentium II processor and related silicon, comprising most of the PC's core electronics.

Only three major notebook vendors so far have adopted the less integrated "mini-cartridge" Pentium II version--Compaq, Toshiba, and Fujitsu--and all three came in at the high end price-wise when the first Pentium II notebooks were announced last week.

Gateway's 9100XL is also notable because it relies on a hardware rather than software for DVD playback, which the company says results in better performance. However, the Pentium II's performance advantage compared to the older Pentium MMX chip comes at the cost of added power consumption, of concern when using batteries.

The notebook is currently available on the company's Web site.