Notebooks Think Small

SAN FRANCISCO (04/17/2000) - Business people looking for a new notebook computer now have a few more options. On Saturday, Acer Inc. launched a floppy-less model called the TravelMate 600, and today Toshiba Corp. announced additions to its Satellite and Portege lines.

The most interesting thing about Acer's TravelMate 600 is its solution to the floppy dilemma. Most people find the floppy disk's minuscule storage capacity too limiting, but eliminating it without offering an alternative -- the way Apple did with its iMac and iBook products -- doesn't sit well with some users.

Acer came up with a cool solution: a modular CD-RW drive.

Consolidating both read and write functions into one drive lets Acer slim down the notebook without decreasing its functionality, says Paul Tayar, mobile product marketing manager at Acer. The unit weighs 5.4 pounds with the CD-RW drive.

The notebook, shipping now, comes in two flavors, he says. A model with Intel's 600MHz Pentium III (PIII) processor, 64MB memory, a 9GB hard drive, a removable 4X-2X-20X CD-RW drive, a V.90 modem, an Ethernet port, a 13.3-inch active-matrix display, and Windows 98 sells for an estimated street price of US$2,499. A model with the same basics, but a 650MHz PIII, 128MB memory, and a 12GB hard drive, sells for an estimated $2,799.

Of course, the CD-RW drive still won't read floppy disks. If you miss your floppy drive, you can buy an external Universal Serial Bus model for about $99, Tayar says. If you want a DVD-ROM drive (to swap with the modular CD-RW drive) it will cost you about $350.

Toshiba Tweaks

Notebook giant Toshiba announced two additions to its offerings: the Portege 3440CT for ultra-mobile users and the Satellite 2210 series for those on a tighter budget.

The Portege 3440 is less than an inch thick and weighs in at just 3.4 pounds.

The 3440 sells for an estimated $2,499 and includes a 500MHz PIII, 64MB memory, a 6GB hard drive, a V.90 modem, and an 11.3-inch active-matrix polysilicon display.

Polysilicon technology is new to notebook-sized displays; it has previously been used in Toshiba's Portege 3110CT. The polysilicon process used in Toshiba's LCDs (liquid crystal displays) allows the use of smaller TFTs (thin-film transistors). Smaller TFTs block less light and give a brighter display.

Toshiba's polysilicon display also offers excellent resolution, uses less power, and is more reliable than standard displays, according to Marc Tanguay, Toshiba's director of portable product marketing.

To save space on the tiny unit itself, Toshiba includes a standard port replicator that houses the unit's Ethernet, serial, parallel, SVGA, PS/2, audio, and AC power ports. An optional multimedia port replicator sells for an estimated $399 and offers additional connectivity, including a bay for extra drives such as a DVD-ROM drive.

Toshiba also announced a new Satellite series for small and home-office business users who want a less-expensive portable PC. The 2210XCDS has a 13-inch dual-scan display and sells for $1,399. The 2210CDT has a 12.1-inch active-matrix display and sells for $1,699.

Both 2210 Series models have a 500MHz Celeron processor, 64MB of memory, a 6GB hard drive, a 24X CD-ROM drive, a floppy drive, a 56K-bps modem, and Windows 98.

The Portege 2440 and the two Satellite 2210 Series models should be available later this month.

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