CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Christmas Gift Guide
Culture

It ain't heavy; it's my laptop

The new Toshiba notebook, which weighs 9.6 pounds and has a 2.2GHz Pentium 4 processor, is designed to replace a high-end desktop PC with a more portable alternative.

Toshiba on Tuesday launched the mother of all notebooks.

The company's Satellite 1955-S801 weighs 9.6 pounds, sports a 2.2GHz Pentium 4 desktop processor from Intel, a huge 16-inch display and a removable wireless keyboard.

The new Satellite is meant to replace a high-end desktop PC with a more portable alternative. The machine's design also aims to promote greater ease of use, by allowing owners to detach the wireless keyboard and also use a wireless mouse to sit farther back from the 16-inch screen.

Toshiba estimates that the Satellite 1955 will spend about 80 percent of its time in use as a desktop, but it can also be packed it up and moved fairly easily in the home or office.

"The 1955 is designed to give customers high-end performance plus the ability to hop from desk to desk," said Carl Pinto, director of product marketing for Toshiba.

The Satellite 1955 is the latest example in a new trend in consumer-oriented notebooks. Manufacturers have begun producing notebooks with giant screens and desktop Pentium 4 processors to offer higher performance and somewhat lower prices than more traditional notebooks. But there is a trade-off: The new machines weigh considerably more and don't run as long on batteries.

Analysts say such machines appeal to a certain customer, typically a second - or third-time PC buyer who wants something more portable than a desktop but refuses to give up performance or pay a huge sum for a new machine.

The desktop-replacement notebook category also includes the Satellite 1905 that Toshiba introduced last month, as well as products from Hewlett-Packard, such as the HP Pavilion ze5100 and Compaq Presario 1500. Other manufacturers such as Gateway and now Dell Computer may be looking at the concept as well.

These notebooks, all of which feature Intel's desktop Pentium 4 chips, are priced between $1,500 and $2,000. This is just north of the average notebook PC, which is about $1,475, according to NPD Techworld.

They all get 2 hours to 2.5 hours of battery life and weigh in at 8 pounds or more. They are giants compared with a typical notebook that has a Pentium 4-M mobile chip. Such notebooks average 3 hours to 3.5 hours of battery life and weigh 6 pounds or 7 pounds. Several manufacturers are now making Pentium 4-M notebooks slimmed down to 5 pounds.

When a Satellite 1955 owner dares to hit the road, the machine will run for about 2.5 hours on a single charge of its 12-cell lithium ion battery, Toshiba said.

The new Pentium 4 desktop-replacement notebooks are designed to consumers one more option to choose from.

"A lot of them are looking at it and seeing they can compromise on the weight and still have performance and portability," Pinto said.

Pinto readily acknowledges that the new Satellite 1955 fills a small niche, but he said the trend that spawned it could give Toshiba a boost in future sales. The company was the No. 1 seller of notebooks worldwide in the first quarter, thanks to strong sales in Japan. But as consumers and small-business owners trade up from desktops to desktop replacement notebooks, the company asserts that it could gain an even bigger piece of the PC market.

"We're looking at driving a lot more people to mobile now that a lot of the compromises (inherent in notebook PCs) have been eliminated," Pinto said.

Indeed, notebooks of the past were bulkier than even most of today's giants. They were also much slower and much more expensive. Just a few years ago, high-end notebooks commanded $4,000 or more.

If there's anyone that doesn't stand to benefit from sales of desktop-replacement notebooks, however, it's Intel. Desktop chips, such as the 2.2GHz Pentium 4 at $241, sell for much less than Pentium 4-M chips, which are specifically designed for notebooks. The Pentium 4-M uses less power and has other built-in tricks to extend battery life. A 2GHz version of the chip lists for $637.

The Satellite 1955 will cost $2,499 and includes a few features not found in other desktop-replacement notebooks, such as the detachable wireless keyboard and the wireless mouse.

The machine includes the 16-inch screen with 1280-by-1024-pixel resolution, 512MB of RAM, a 40GB hard drive, a combination CD-rewritable/DVD drive, an IEEE 1394 port, Nvidia's GeForce4 440 Go graphics chip, and 32MB of video memory.

Its price is competitive with Sony's GRX, the only other brand-name notebook at retail to offer a 16-inch screen. Other manufacturers, such as Gateway and Dell, have offered 15.7-inch screens.

On Tuesday, Toshiba also updated its Satellite 5105 by adding a higher resolution 15-inch display with 1600-by-1200-pixel resolution, a beefier Nvidia GeForce4 440 Go graphics chip and 64MB of video memory. The machine, which Toshiba bills as its multimedia and entertainment notebook, will sell for $2,599.