Vendors push 150 MHz models

A number of vendors last week announced new notebook models sporting Intel Corp.'s 150 MHz Pentium chip a development that industry executives said further closes the performance gap between notebook and desktop products.

Digital Equipment Corp. Gateway 2000 Inc. Micron Electronics Inc. Sharp Electronics Corp. Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) and Toshiba America Information Systems Inc. are among the vendors entering the 150 MHz market for portable machines with Compaq Computer Corp. and Dell Computer Corp. planning to introduce products this fall.

Intel's 150 MHz processor was specifically designed for portable computers and is the fastest chip of its kind. "[Notebook vendors] will be able to breathe down the necks of the desktops " said Jan Morgan an analyst with IDC Government Market Services. She said up to half of federal desktop users are considering upgrading to portable machines.

"The desktop replacement wave is here " said Craig Jones the government channels director for personal productivity products at TI. TI's 150 MHz offering the TravelMate 6050 is slated to hit the General Services Administration schedule in September according to Jones. TI's GSA resellers are AmeriData Federal Systems BTG Inc. Comark CompUSA Electronic Data Systems Corp. Entex Government Micro Resources Inc. Government Technology Services Inc. and Sysorex Information Systems Inc.

The TravelMate 6050 includes 16M of EDO RAM standard a PCI bus architecture a removable 1.35G hard drive a 12.1-inch active-matrix Super VGA display and a lithium-ion battery. The product also includes multimedia capabilities such as Zoomed Video port technology and a 6X CD-ROM. The TravelMate 6050 which is compatible with Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT Workstation 4.0 has an estimated street price of $5 499.

Gateway 2000 Inc. meanwhile added a 150 MHz model to its recently debuted Solo 2100 multimedia notebook line. The Solo 2100 line - which also includes 100 120 and 133 MHz models - is expected to land on Gateway's GSA schedule in September or October according to a Gateway spokes-man. However the 150 MHz model slated for commercial availability in September may hit the schedule a bit later than the rest of the Solo 2100 product set the spokesman said.

Solo models including the 150 MHz unit offer three display options: a 12.1-inch active-matrix SVGA an 11.3-inch active-matrix SVGA or an 11.3-inch dual-scan SVGA. The product provides for a range of hard disk sizes and comes with a lithium-ion battery. The modular Solo 2100 is designed to hit a range of price points according to Gateway.

"Because of the modularity of the unit the price points are broad " the Gateway spokesman said.At the high end the 150 MHz model provides a "competitive challenge" to desktop machines he said. A 150 MHz Solo 2100 configured with 40M of EDO RAM a 1.2G hard drive a 6X CD-ROM a 3.5-inch disk drive a 28.8 PC Card fax/modem a carrying case and Microsoft's Office 95 is priced at $5 399. But the 150 MHz machine can cost as little as $2 739 depending on its configuration.

Other Announcements

Micron announced a 150 MHz model in its Millennia Transport notebook line. The product includes 16M of EDO RAM a 12-inch active-matrix display a 1.2G hard disk a lithium-ion battery and an 8X CD-ROM among other features. Micron plans to add the product to the GSA schedule but as of last week had no timetable for doing so according to a source in Micron's Federal Government Sales department.

Digital's HiNote Ultra II LTS5150 is the company's 150 MHz product. Announced last week it includes 16M of RAM an 11.3-inch active-matrix SVGA display a 1.44G removable hard drive and an optional 6X CD-ROM. The product comes pre-loaded with Microsoft Windows 95. It is also available with Windows NT. Digital's 150 MHz model is available through the company's resellers at a suggested list price of $5 099. The Windows NT version is available on a special-order basis at a suggested list price of $5 299.

Sharp's new PC-9090 features the 150 MHz chip as well. In addition the product includes 24M of EDO RAM a 1.8G hard drive a 12.1-inch active-matrix XGA display and 8X CD-ROM. Pricing information will be released in the fourth quarter the company said.

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