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My portable office

My portable office

It's a hot market in notebookland, and while Toshiba still has the upper hand, there are many other high-class products to choose from. A lot has happened since ARN last checked out the market, so Durelle Fry took a look at some of the models, and their features, released in recent months.

What's happening? Pentium chips are getting faster and lower in power consumption, screens are getting larger and cheaper, and battery technology has moved a long way from the old NiCads that lasted less than an hour (although some cynics say we've moved to NiMH and lithium ion batteries that last less than an hour). One hot tip ARN can give you is to visit the vendor's internet sites and read the product blurbs. Over the past year many of these sites have grown to contain good, solid reseller information and have become a valuable toolToshiba's notebook showroom - boasting new modelsToshiba recently launched a new range of notebooks which "significantly enhance" its Satellite, Satellite Pro, Toshiba Tecra 500 and Portege ranges. At the same time the company launched the Libretto 50 ("the world's smallest Windows 95 computer"), and FAST SCAN, a new high contrast screen technology that sits between DSTN and TFT technologies.

Satellite 220CDS

With this entry level machine designed for small business and home users, as well as students and mobile professionals, Toshiba has set a 12.1in screen as standard. The company believes that it is the first notebook vendor in Australia to do this.

Additional features are a 133MHz Intel Pentium processor, 10 x CD-ROM drive, 16Mb EDO DRAM, 2Mb Video RAM, and 16-bit audio with two built-in stereo speakers. The hard disk drive holds 1.37Gb, there is a USB port, infrared port interface, integrated AC adapter, and a minimum two-hour battery life.

To extend the time of use of the com-puter when mobile, Toshiba offers an optional second lithium ion battery which fits in the SelectBay drive. The SelectBay also supports either a CD-ROM drive, floppy disk drive or second hard disk drive.

The Satellite 220CDS also features Zoomed Video Technology which enables it to run complex multimedia applications such as video playback of MPEG-2 full-screen, full motion video, video capture, TV tuner support and videoconferencing.

The Satellite 220CDS is available now at an RRP from $4025.

Satellite Pro 440 Series and Satellite Pro 460CDTThese machines have been designed by Toshiba specifically for multimedia-rich off-site presentations, as well as for large applications requiring maximum processing power.

Features include a 133MHz Intel Pentium processor with MMX technology, swappable internal 10 x CD-ROM drive, 16Mb EDO DRAM, 1.37Gb hard disk drive and a 12.1in display.

The two machines in the 440 Series differ because, while the Satellite Pro 440CDT offers a 12.1in TFT active matrix display, the 440CDX features a 12.1in High Contrast Addressing Display (FAST SCAN).

Toshiba claims to be "the only notebook vendor offering the new FAST SCAN display technology, which provides performance close to TFT at prices that rival DSTN".

The Satellite Pro 460CDT is intended for mobile professionals who require maximum power. It features a 166MHz Intel Pentium processor with MMX technology, 10 x CD-ROM drive, 2Gb hard disk drive, 32Mb EDO RAM and 12.1in TFT active matrix display.

Features common to all models in the Satellite Pro range are a USB port, SelectBay, Zoomed Video Technology, 2Mb Video RAM, 16-bit audio with two built-in stereo speakers, infrared file transfers, integrated AC adapter, and a battery life of over two hours.

Additionally, there is support for one Type III or Type II PC Card. Through the optional Enhanced Port Replicator, another two Type III PC Cards can be accommodated together with "one touch" docking.

The RRP of the Satellite Pro Series starts at $4746, and the Satellite Pro 460CDT is priced from RRP $8102. All models are available now.

Tecra 530CDT - 'designed to outperform all ordinary notebooks'Targeted at mainstream corporate customers, the thin screen technology used in this machine boasts a "13 per cent saving in space, and a 10 per cent reduction in weight". Features include a 166MHz Intel Pentium processor with MMX technology, swappable internal 10 x CD-ROM drive, 32Mb EDO RAM, 2Gb hard disk drive, 16-bit audio and two in-built stereo speakers, and 12.1in TFT active matrix display.

Additional features include a USB port, SelectBay, Zoomed Video Technology, 2Mb Video RAM, infrared file transfers, and a battery life of more than two hours. There is also support for one Type III or two Type II PC Cards (plus another two Type III PC Cards through the optional Enhanced Port Replicator).

The Toshiba Tecra 530CDT has an RRP which starts at $10,300.

The Portege 300CT - "ultralight, ultraportable"Weighing 1.7kg, the Portege 300CT is designed to meet the demands of advanced applications, and comes with a 133MHz Intel Pentium processor with MMX technology, 1.5Gb hard disk drive, and 32Mb EDO DRAM.

The 10.4in "wide screen" format TFT active matrix display provides a resolution of 1024 x 600, for viewing and presenting spreadsheets or other applications requiring wide viewing areas.

Other features of the Portege 300CT include a USB port, Zoomed Video technology, 2Mb Video RAM, infrared file transfers, integrated AC adapter, support for one Type III or two Type II PC Cards, and a standard battery life of over two hours (or three hours with the high capacity battery).

The optional docking station offers an integrated, "slim-line" 10 x CD-ROM drive and stereo speakers, and attaches easily to become part of the notebook with no addition to its footprint.

The Portege 300CT has an RRP starting at $6713.

The Libretto 50CT - a 'mini-notebook'

Small enough to fit in the palm of a hand, this machine is a Pentium powered full colour computer running the full version of Windows 95.

The Libretto weighs 850 grams and is about the same size as a VHS video cassette. It features a 75MHz Intel Pentium processor, 770Mb hard disk drive, 16Mb EDO RAM, Soundblaster Pro-compatible sound with built-in speaker, 6.1in TFT active matrix colour display with 1Mb Video RAM, full-function 80-key sculptured keyboard, and an Accupoint integrated pointing device, specially designed for the machine.

The Libretto 50CT supports one Type II PC Card, and also included is an I/O adapter which attaches to the full range of external devices. The standard battery provides two hours of operating time, while four hours are available with the high- capacity battery. The Libretto 50CT has an RRP of $3795.

Warranties

The Tecra 530CT, Satellite Pro Series, Satellite Pro 460CDT and Portege 300CT are all supplied with Toshiba's three-year international warranty for parts and labour. The Satellite 220CDS and Libretto 50CT are supported by a one-year parts and labour warranty.

FAST SCAN - new screen technology

Toshiba recently launched a new type of screen technology on its Satellite Pro 440CDX. The High Contrast Fast Scan Display, or FAST SCAN, sits between the two screen formats, TFT and DSDN.

FAST SCAN displays are similar to DSTN screens, but use a smaller layer of lower viscosity LCD material, together with a faster frame rate, and more pulses per frame - these features produce greater contrast and a faster response time.

Toshiba

Tel 1800 021 100 Fax (02) 9887 3201

INFO: www.toshiba.com.au

Digital - hot on Toshiba's heels

Digital HiNote VP567

This machine replaces Digital's non-MMX HiNote VP565, for the same price. The new model includes Intel's 133MHz mobile Pentium processor with MMX technology. Also included is a 12.1in SVGA active matrix colour display, and a removable combination "CD-ROM-plus-diskette" drive. The combination drive features a 12-speed CD-ROM and floppy-disk drive in a single, modular expansion bay. Both components can be used simultaneously without external cables or extra attachments.

The modular expansion bay also supports an optional second Lithium Ion battery which is interchangeable with the combination CD-ROM/diskette drive.

The HiNote VP567 is pre-loaded with Windows 95 and is fully certified to run Windows NT Workstation 4.0.

Available now, the HiNote VP567 has an RRP of $6220.

Digital

Tel 13 2393 Fax (02) 9561 7555

INFO: www.digital.com.au

IBM

The 765D - IBM's ThinkPad for high-end usersTo cater for the needs of mobile users with demanding computing tasks, IBM has released the ThinkPad 765D, which features a 166MHz Pentium processor with MMX technology, up to 3.0Gb of hard disk drive capacity, and 32Mb RAM (expandable to 104Mb). An additional hard drive may be inserted into the machine's UltraBay to expand storage to 6Gb capacity. A floppy diskette drive, CD-ROM drive or second battery may also be added into the UltraBay.

The 13.3 inch active-matrix screen has a 1024 x 768 resolution. Multimedia features include a high-speed integrated 8 x CD-ROM drive, and Total Image Video with MPEG-2 support to enhance full-motion, full-screen playback of MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 video files. There is also a 64-bit graphics engine, and 2Mb VRAM.

IBM has also included its Media Processor which provides TheatreSound, Sound Blaster Pro, MIDI and WAV support. Complete telephony functions including full duplex speakerphone, digital answering machine, and remote message retrieval and Digital Simultaneous Voice Over Data capability are also available.

Standard on the ThinkPad 765D is a PC Card slot for two Type I/II, or one Type III PC Cards, with support for 32-bit PC CardBus technology.

IBM's ThinkPad 765D is preloaded with Windows 95 and supports Windows 3.11, Windows for Workgroups 3.11, Windows NT Workstation 3.51 and 4.0, IBM PC DOS 7.0, MS DOS 6.22, OS/2 Warp Version 4, and OS/2 Warp Connect with and without WIN-OS/2.

Lotus WordPro word processor, 1-2-3 Spreadsheet, Freelance Graphics, Approach Database, and Organiser Schedular are preloaded. TME NetFinity network management software is also preloaded.

The estimated street price for the IBM ThinkPad 765D is $11,078. This price includes a promotional carry bag and an extra 16Mb of memory.

IBM 560E - an 'ultraportable' Thinkpad

The 560E family of notebooks was released by IBM in mid-July. Weighing 1.86 kilograms and measuring 31mm thickness, they feature 150MHz and 166MHz Intel Pentium processors with MMX technology. 2Mb VRAM and 64-bit graphic processing support high-quality audio, video and graphics for multimedia applications.

Lotus SmartSuite is preloaded on the 560E, as is a recovery "preload" CD. Additional features include a DSTN or TFT screen, 2.1Gb hard drive, Sound Blaster Pro compatible audio support, 256K L2 cache, and 4Mbit/sec infrared connection to LANs, printers and other computers.

The 560E only supports version 3 of OS/2.

PC Card support is available for two Type II or one Type III PC Cards. Lotus SmartSuite and NetFinity are both preloaded. Estimated street price ranges from $4338 to $6797.

IBM

Tel 13 2426

INFO: www.ibm.com.au

Sharp

PC-9800T

The PC-9800T notebook computer features a 166MHz Pentium processor; a 12.1in, 1024 x 768 resolution, TFT colour LCD screen; built-in 10 x speed CD-ROM drive; a multimedia stereo sound system "compatible with" Sound Blaster; Glide Pad Finger Mouse; and two flexible bays for FDD, CD-ROM drive, AC adaptor or battery. There is standard 32Mb EDO RAM, which is expandable up to 64Mb. The PC Card slot is Type III or two Type II, the hard disk drive holds 2.1Gb and is removable, and there is an optional docking station.

The PC-9800T comes pre-installed with Windows 95 and Internet Explorer.

The RRP of the PC-9800T is $7695.

PC-9302T

This product is an all-in-one multimedia notebook PC. It is powered by a 150MHz Pentium processor with MMX technology, and 256K secondary cache. The machine is described by Sharp as a "multi-purpose PC" and features a built-in CD-ROM, floppy and hard disk drives.

The 11.3in SVGA (800 x 600 resolution), TFT colour LCD screen displays 262,144 colours. A single plug interface, is available for USB peripherals, and a Type III (or two Type II) PC Card slot supports zoomed video and Cardbus.

The infrared port complies with ASK and 4Mbit/sec IrDA for wireless communications with PDAs and PCs.

The standard 16Mb EDO RAM is expandable to 64Mb, and the notebook has a 1.6Gb hard disk drive. A 10 x CD-ROM drive is built-in.

The RRP of the PC-9320T is $4995.

Sharp

Joe Costantino

Tel (02) 9830 4600

Fax (02) 9672 1208

Twinhead notebooks

The maker of Twinhead claims that its range of notebooks can withstand all types of extremes - heat, ice and even drowning. When put to the test in a US torture survival test last year, the Slimnote 9 notebook range withstood two hours of baking at around 90 degrees celsius. After a cooldown time of 30 minutes the notebook booted without trouble!

Twinhead has four notebooks in its range:

SL9133CZ - which features a 133MHz Pentium processor, 1.3Gb hard drive, 16Mb of RAM, a DSTN screen and an integrated 10 x CD-ROM. RRP of $3239SL9133TZ - featuring a 133MHz Pentium processor, 1.3Gb hard drive, TFT screen and 10 x CD-ROM. RRP of $4469SL9150TZ - which includes a 150MHz Pentium processor, a 1.4Gb hard drive, TFT screen, 16Mb of RAM and 10 x CD-ROM. RRP of $4699SL9166TZMMX - which features a 166MHz Pentium processor, 2.1Gb hard drive, TFT screen, 32Mb of RAM and an integrated 10 x CD-ROM. RRP of $5955.

For further details on the Twinhead range contact:

Westan

Tel (03) 9663 6775

Fax (03) 9563 6836

PHILIPS CANCELS NOTEBOOK INTRODUCTION

By IDG staff writers

NETHERLANDS - Dutch electronics giant Philips Electronics has decided against introducing notebooks with its own brand name, in Europe and the United States.

Philips already sells a complete range of personal computers in the Asian region, and Philips' portables are sold through OEM agreements, such as with Germany's Vobis Microcomputer, in other parts of the world. But Philips president and CEO Cor Boonstra recently vetoed an entry in the crowded notebook market in Europe and the US.

"Our president has looked at the investments necessary to gain a significant market share in Europe and the US. The investments were deemed too high, in view of the anticipated market share in the short term," said a spokesman for the Dutch multinational. "We continue, however, to sell Philips PCs in the Asia-Pacific region. We are also looking at more OEM agreements with a broad range of well-known PC vendors."

The decision not to market and sell PCs under the Philips brand in Europe and the US is by no means final, the Philips spokesman added. "We are always looking for new business opportunities. We will not hesitate to reverse our decision if the time is right."

Sources familiar with the discussions say that the decision has disappointed the so-called "PC-lobby" within the Dutch company, but analysts applauded Philips' decision.

"They have been doing this for years. Every now and then the question pops up in [Philips' headquarters in] Eindhoven," said Marcel Warmerdam, research manager at IDC Benelux. "To be honest, I don't think Philips would stand a chance in the crowded European and American markets.

"They lack distribution channels and brand awareness as a PC vendor," Warmerdam continued. "In the Netherlands and in some other European countries Philips has a less-than-fortunate track record in the computer business. In the past they have tried unsuccessfully to become a major player in both the PC arena, as well as in the market for mini computers."

APPLE'S POWERBOOK 1400c

By Macworld staff

Apple has announced performance boosts to the PowerBook 1400 line. At the high-end, Apple has added a 166MHz model with an active matrix display.

A 133MHz model with an active matrix display is now offered as the mid-range configuration, and the PowerBook 1400 entry level model's performance has been boosted from 117MHz to 133MHz, and includes a dual-scan display.

All configurations in the PowerBook 1400 series use the PowerPC 603e processor. In addition to the new higher performance notebook, the PowerBook 1400 series now also offers larger hard disks, ranging from 1.3Gb to 2Gb (up from 750Mb and 1Gb, respectively); and 8 x-speed CD-ROM drives. All configurations of the PowerBook 1400 now offer 128K of level two cache.

The PowerBook 1400c/166 has a 166MHz PowerPC 603e processor, 16Mb of RAM, a 2Gb hard drive, 8 x CD-ROM drive, 128K of cache, and a 11.3in active matrix SVGA colour screen.

The PowerBook 1400cs/133 has a 133MHz PowerPC 603e CPU, 16Mb of RAM, 1.3Gb hard drive, dual-scan display, 8 x CD-ROM, and 128K of cache.

The PowerBook 1400c/166 has a 166MHz PowerPC 603e CPU, 16Mb of RAM, 1.3Gb hard drive, active matrix display, 8 x CD-ROM, and 128K of cache.

NOTEBOOK USERS GET MORE OPTIONS

By Andy Santoni

By the first quarter of 1998, Digital, AMD and Cyrix will be offering mobile CPUs that offer Windows NT 5.0 capability and 533MHz speeds, mainstream processors that target the Pentium II, and low-cost chips for $2500 notebooks.

Continuing to bring the Alpha processor into direct competition with high-performance CPUs from Intel, Digital will offer a mobile version of the 21164PC 533MHz CPU for desktop replacements. The mobile part is slated to arrive at about the same time as NT 5.0, which will have features such as power management and plug-and-play support that are necessities in notebook applications, said Tim Miller, strategic marketing manager at Digital Semiconductor.

The Alpha chip is similar to the Pentium II in power dissipation, and both mobile chips will be aided by 0.25-micron technology, Miller noted.

Meanwhile, AMD will be offering a lower-cost alternative to the Pentium II - a mobile K6 processor will begin shipping later this year, said David Somo, AMD's K6 division marketing manager.

Taking on Intel at the low end, Cyrix will soon offer a notebook MediaGX CPU that will enable 200MHz portables at a price of about $2500, according to Steve Tobak, Cyrix's vice-president of corporate marketing.

"We're working with a number of OEMs," Tobak said, to bring MediaGX notebooks into the United States.


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