New Lightweights From Heavyweights Dell and Gateway

What’s new in notebooks? Gateway has borrowed design features from its MC and MD Series laptops to create a highly mobile high-definition platform. The TC Series is a 5.3-pound notebook with a 14-inch Ultrabright HD display with a cinematic 16:9 aspect ratio (1,366 by 768 resolution).

For an affordable $650 apiece, the TC7306u (black) and TC7307u (burgundy) models share Intel’s 2.0GHz Pentium Dual-Core Mobile T4200 processor with 1MB of L2 cahe; 4GB of DDR2/667 memory; a 320GB hard drive and DVD±RW drive; and Intel GMA 4500M graphics. A 1.3-megapixel webcam, 802.11b/g Draft-N wireless, and Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-Bit are standard.

According to Gateway, future members of the TC Series family will carry even higher hi-def credentials such as Blu-ray drives, HDMI output, and Nvidia GeForce 9300M dedicated graphics.

Meanwhile, Dell has introduced a new twist on the familiar Tablet PC touch screen: The Latitude XT2 convertible’s 12.1-inch (1,200 by 800) panel is a multi-touch screen that responds to natural gestures such as a pinch or tap for scrolling, panning, and zooming through everyday productivity applications.

The rest of the 3.6-pound portable builds on Dell’s previous multi-touch model, with improved connectivity featuring an LCD-based wireless antenna; new Dell ControlVault and ControlPoint security and Intel vPro manageability applications; and a choice of standard or daylight-viewable display. Swapping the standard 4-cell battery for a 6-cell pack ($19) plus optional battery slice ($249), the company adds, offers up to 11.5 hours of battery life.

The Latitude XT2 starts at $2,489 with an Intel Core 2 Duo SU9300 (1.2GHz) processor, 2GB of DDR3 memory, an 80GB hard disk, and an external DVD±RW drive module. A 64GB solid-state drive is a $399 option.

When Dell first targeted the netbook market, it aimed both high and low with 12.1-inch-screened Inspiron Mini 12 and 8.9-inch Mini 9 models. Now the company is going for the sweet spot in between with the Inspiron Mini 10 — a 2.9-pound traveling companion with a 10.1-inch display that goes on sale February 26.

The Mini 10’s screen has a cinematic 16:9 aspect ratio (1,024 by 576 resolution) suitable for external monitor or TV viewing via an HDMI port. The Intel Atom-powered netbook starts at $399 with Windows XP, 1GB of RAM, and a 160GB hard drive, as well as a 92-percent full-size keyboard with gesture-enabled touchpad. Color choices include Obsidian Black, Alpine White, Cherry Red, Promise Pink, Jade Green, and Ice Blue.

Later this year, the Mini 10’s options list will grow to include a 720p hi-def screen; Bluetooth and mobile broadband as well as WiFi; 2GB of RAM; a 250GB hard disk or solid-state storage; an internal TV tuner; and Ubuntu and Windows Vista OS picks.

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