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Toshiba, Gateway boast new notebooks

Toshiba rolls out a barrage of new notebooks and Gateway jumps into the low-cost notebook foray with a new model in its Solo line.

Toshiba today rolled out a barrage of new notebooks, featuring more features at the low end and style and performance at the high end, and Gateway jumped into the low-cost notebook foray today with a new model in its Solo line, the 2150.

Toshiba's new low-end portables, ranging from $1,199 to $1,699, come as Compaq batters the company in retail sales. Compaq Presario notebooks took the top three retail sales positions in August, according to PC Data.

While Compaq and Toshiba have consistently dominated the top five retail sales positions, Compaq claimed the No. 1 spot during five of the first eight months of the year.

Toshiba's response is notebooks with faster processors at lower prices than offered by its Texas rival.

The entry-level Satellite 1555CDS starts at $1,199 and features a 380-MHz AMD Mobile K6-2 processor, 32-MB of RAM, 12.1-inch passive matrix display, 4.3-GB hard drive, 24X CD-ROM drive, and 56k modem. The 2100CDS, 2105CDS, and 2100CDT feature 400-MHz, AMD K6-2 processors. The latter two models come with 64MB of RAM and the 2100CDT with a TFT display.

The 1555CDS is Toshiba's answer to the Compaq Presario 1245, the consistent leader in retail notebook sales, according to PC Data. The Presario 1245, which sold for an average of $1,170 in August, features a 333-MHz AMD K6-2 processor, 32MB of RAM, 12.1-inch passive active matrix screen, 3.2-GB hard drive, 24X CD-ROM drive, and 56k modem.

Toshiba is offering Lotus SmartSuite Millennium Edition on the Satellite 1555CDS and 2105CDS. Both models will be available at retail outlets later this month. Toshiba plans to sell the 2100CDS and 2100CDT through mail order operations and its computer dealer network.

Unlike Toshiba and Compaq, which boast compact all-in-one designs, Gateway is taking a modular approach.

All-in-one notebooks are cheaper to produce, but consumers cannot easily upgrade them to new technologies or outfit them with other components, such as high-capacity floppy drives. Consumers pay more up front for the flexibility.

Gateway's Solo 2150 starts at $1,599 with a 400-MHz Celeron processor, 32-MB of RAM, 12.1-inch TFT display, 4-GB hard drive, 24X CD-ROM drive, 2X AGP graphics accelerator with 4MB of memory, and 56k modem.

Configurable options include a DVD drive and Zip drive, both removable and swappable from the CD-ROM bay.

Toshiba also unveiled new higher-priced models in a striking blue and metallic design. Both Satellite notebooks, the 2615DVD and 2655XDVD, offer DVD drives and 3D-sound as standard fare as well as Lotus SmartSuite Millennium Edition.

The 2615DVD, at $1,999, comes with a 433-MHz Intel Mobile Celeron processor, 64MB of RAM, 12.1-inch TFT display, 6-GB hard drive, and 56k modem for $1,999. The 2655XDVD increases the display to 14.1-inches and will sell for $2,399. Both units will be available at retail later this month.

Toshiba is also pitting the new blue and metallic Satellite notebooks against similar models from Compaq. The 2615DVD sells for $100 more than Compaq's popular Presario 1685--the No. 3 seller at retail in August according to PC Data--but offers an Intel processor and Lotus SmartSuite.

Toshiba will offer two free DVD movies for customers buying either model between November 1 and January 31, 2000.

All models are eligible for a $400 mail-in rebate with a three-year commitment to Prodigy for Internet access, $250 on a two-year contract, or $100 for a single-year commitment.

Toshiba's new notebooks come a week after it rolled out new Equium desktops.