Pentium MMX wares lead new-product parade

Intel Corp.'s extension of its power-saving line of Pentium MMX processors for portable PCs has spurred another round of product offerings from major notebook vendors.

Federal users should see the new machines quickly showing up on refreshed contracts and on the schedule offerings of major manufacturers.

Intel last week formally announced 266 MHz and 166 MHz clock-speed Pentium MMX chips code-named Tillamook. These add to the two Pentium MMX chips running at 233 MHz and 200 MHz that came out in September.

'Power Consumption Is Low'

"We're growing and extending our lines based on .25-micron technology " said Frank Spindler director of marketing for Intel's mobile and handheld product groups. "This fits extremely well into the category of thin and light because power consumption is low and the packaging is attractive."

The 166 MHz chip is aimed at mini-notebooks that are about the size of a vide ocassette and have low power requirements. No new products with the 166 MHz chip were announced in tandem with Intel's introduction of the chip but Spindler predicted there would be a number of mini-notebooks coming out soon.

The 266 MHz chip represents an incremental increase in speed over the faster of the two Tillamooks introduced in September Spindler said. But he suggested that it marked a considerable advance over the first half of last year when units with 120 MHz chips were the hottest sellers. Shoppers looking for faster lighter and higher-performance notebooks have many more choices only one year later he said.

New notebooks announced by Toshiba America Information Systems Inc. NEC Corp. Digital Equipment Corp. Dell Computer Corp. and Compaq Computer Corp. feature the 266 MHz chip and are designed as desktop replacements for a mobile work force.

The Toshiba Tecra 550CDT weighing 6.2 pounds is a few ounces lighter than Toshiba's other high-end models and has an estimated batter y life of 2.5 hours. One new feature is its ability to run an application view at two different resolutions. This is made possible by a new S3 Virge/MX 3-D graphics controller and is important for people who use their notebooks for presentations. With the new graphics controller the view on the Tecra 550CDT can be made larger to take up the full screen. The second view can be set at a lower resolution to accommodate the presentation device. The new model is priced at $3 999.

New Wares From Digital

Digital has included the new 266 MHz chip in its HiNote VP700 and HiNote Ultra 2000 lines said Phil Kennett general manager of Digital's federal personal systems group. The VP745 features a 13.3-inch screen and a combined CD-ROM/floppy disk drive. Digital also has enhanced many of its other VP700 models to include other Tillamook chips.

The Digital Ultra 2000 weighing 6.4 pounds features a built-in 56 kilobits/sec modem with 10/100 Ethernet and a 24X CD-ROM drive. The Level 2 cache in the 266 M Hz model has been boosted to 1M— nearly double the more common 512K Level 2 cache.

"We see a tremendous response to this type of product throughout our marketplace " Kennett said.

Kennett also said the new Digital notebooks would meet the needs of government employees who work remotely such as Census Bureau workers who now use Digital notebooks to collect information at doorsteps nationwide. Digital plans to place the new 266 notebooks on an unspecified indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity contract immediately Kennett said. The General Services Administration schedule price for the HiNote VP745 is $4 408 the HiNote Ultra 2000 is priced at $5 453.

Mark Vena director of portable product marketing at Compaq said incorporating the new 266 MHz chip into its Armada line was the largest refresh Compaq had done with its notebooks in some time. The upgrade involved not only chips but also support options and power management features Vena said.

Most people who intend to buy a laptop to r eplace their desktops are looking for the fastest processor available Vena said.

Compaq announced the Armada 7792DMT which is priced at $5 448 on the GSA schedule and is designed for power users and the lighter 7380DMT which is priced at $4 778 and is designed for users on the go. Both machines have the new 266 MHz Pentium with MMX. Compaq also included the chip in the Armada 4220T part of the new 4200 family of light and versatile notebooks which debuted last week. The 4220T costs $3 822 on the GSA schedule.

The Armada 4200 models weigh 5.2 pounds and have standby capacity of about 500 hours meaning the notebooks can stay on for that long without being completely powered down.

Gary Newgaard director of federal sales and marketing for Compaq said the 7380 will be sold through Government Technology Services Inc. on the Portable II pact while the entire Armada line recently was added to the Desktop V contract with Hughes Data Systems.

Rounding out the announcements NEC and Dell also introduced new high-performance notebooks following the Intel chip release. The NEC Versa 6260 priced on the GSA schedule at $4 041 extends the NEC line into the 266 MHz range and is the first NEC machine to include internal Zip and LS-120 drives. NEC also has made the VersaBay II hot-swappable so users can switch drives without shutting the computer down.

The new NEC notebook will figure in several IDIQ pacts and blanket purchase agreements held by NEC including the National Institutes of Health's Electronic Computer Store II contract the Air Force's Integration for Command Control Communications Computers and Intelligence contract and the Energy Department's Open Systems and Communications Requirements contract said Mojgan Khalili a spokesman for NEC.

Dell launched its Inspiron 3000 M266XT which features a 13.3-inch screen and is priced at $3 299 and it dropped its prices on notebooks with the previously released Tillamook chips. Dell expects to have the new notebook on its GSA schedu le this week.

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