Toshiba has taken a leaf out of the book of the automobile industry with the redesign of its high-end Tecra and Portege range of notebooks.
The idea, according to the vendor, is to merge technology with design whilst addressing business issues such as product life cycles and return on investment.
"The style and form come from the car market. We are combining a machine into a well-balanced product," Toshiba Information Systems Division (ISD) general manager Ralph Stadus said. "For the first 18 of the 20-odd years I have been involved with PCs, all you needed to do was faster, bigger, better. Whilst those aspects still have implications, the industry is facing a maturing customer and marketplace and is looking for something new."
The new Tecra 9000 introduces Intel's 830M chipset and mobile Pentium III processor, allowing Toshiba to minimise weight and heat as well as increase battery life. Aimed at the corporate market, the new model represents a complete redesign and for the first time features the Secure Digital storage media as standard - a storage card capable of storing up to 128MB of data and which Toshiba describes as "the next floppy disk". The Tecra 9000 also integrates Bluetooth and Wireless LAN antennas as standard.
Secure Digital media and Wireless LAN functionality are also included in the Portege 4000, with Bluetooth connectivity an option in the new series. The battery life has been increased 15 per cent to up to four hours and like the new Tecra the notebook features an expandable Slim SelectBay, allowing users to hot-swap drives and hard drives.
"The two products are the start of a change in our direction," said Toshiba's national marketing manager Mark Whittard. "We are looking to bring a new style into the line, focusing on ease of use and a complete communications centre. A notebook is useless when plugged into anything. It is designed to be portable and moved around."
Wireless capability remains the focus for Toshiba.
"Within 12 months we will see many of our large customers deploying wireless capabilities," Whittard said. "At Toshiba, we are all wireless within ISD (information services division)."
The new Tecra and Portege come with a three-year warranty and will retail from $5800 and $4850 respectively, excluding GST.