Compaq and Sony Unveil Notebooks

SAN FRANCISCO (05/03/2000) - It must be spring. Like plants putting forth flowers, PC vendors keep rolling out new notebook computers that feature more power and lower prices. The latest entries to bloom are from Compaq Computer Corp. and Sony Corp.

Compaq is announcing a pair of Armada models, the high-end Armada M700 and midrange E500. Both use Intel's Mobile Pentium III CPUs, with speeds up to 700 MHz, and are available immediately.

Sony is rolling out a new midline VAIO notebook designed for small businesses and students. It is scheduled to ship in June.

Armada Sails On

The Compaq M700 ("M" for mobility) carries prices that start at $3199. It is a high-performance notebook that's lightweight (a shade less than 5 pounds) and thin (1.1 inches). It has an active-matrix 14.4-inch display and a high-impact magnesium case.

Typical configurations include a $3699 version that has a 650-MHz processor, a 6GB hard drive, 64MB of memory, a 24X CD-ROM drive, a 56-kbps modem, and Windows 98. For $4249 you get a loaded model that has the same chip and memory, and has a 12GB hard drive, a 4X DVD-ROM drive, a combination 56-kbps modem and 10/100 Ethernet PC Card, and a Windows NT/2000 dual installation.

The Armada E500 ("E" for expandability) model starts at $2499 and is intended to offer what Compaq calls "a balance between performance and value." You can get this unit with 13.3-inch, 14.1-inch, and 15-inch active-matrix displays.

The notebook has a 1.6-inch-thick design, and it weighs between 5.9 and 7.2 pounds, depending upon the configuration.

A model with a 14.1-inch display, a 12GB hard drive, 64MB of memory, a 24X CD-ROM drive, and Windows 98 costs $2899. For $3699 you get a 700-MHz CPU, a 15-inch display, a 4X DVD-ROM drive, and Windows NT and 2000.

Both the M700 and E500 include MultiBay support so you can easily swap in a CD-ROM drive, a DVD-ROM drive, an LS-120 SuperDisk drive, a second battery, a second hard drive, or a floppy disk drive. Compaq also offers both a docking station and port replicator for both models.

Sony Does Multimedia

The Sony VAIO F520, in keeping with the company's media-heavy approach, is full of multimedia features for handling both still images and video. Selling for $1799, it runs on a Pentium III-500 and includes a 13-inch HPA display, a 6GB hard drive, 64MB of memory, a 24X CD-ROM drive, a 56-kbps modem, and Windows 98.

Weighing in at 7 pounds, the F520 is 2 inches thick and includes an iLink (IEEE-1394) high-speed serial port for direct input of video from a digital camcorder.

On the software side, the VAIO comes with Sony's DVgate Motion video capture and editing software, DVgate Still to capture and edit still images from video, and PictureGear for managing digital content.

The F520 features a three-bay design that allows, for example, use of a CD-ROM or optional CD-RW drive ($500) along with two batteries for uninterrupted video-editing sessions. Additional batteries sell for $250. The company also offers a port replicator.

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