A Flood of Notebooks

In a veritable deluge of mobility, notebook makers of all stripes are announcing their latest additions to their laptop lineups today. The impetus behind this abundant new crop is Intel’s new Centrino Duo Processor Technology. Basically, the platform is designed to improve the speed, performance and battery life of notebooks – features just about any small business owner would want in or out of the office.

According to Intel, the new platform’s features include a faster processor, a faster front-side bus, improved battery life with more-efficient power management and a more powerful, integrated graphics chip. You can click on the Centrino link above to get in-depth specifics on the technology.

The bottom line, of course, is that the Intel platform means more notebook choices available for your small business. If you’re in the market to buy a new notebook, be sure to check back here in June for our notebook buyer’s guide. We’ll cover everything you need to know before you buy.

For now, take a look at the latest models these vendors have to offer:

Customers demand and Dell delivers – at least that’s what the Round Rock, Texas computer company says about the new Latitude notebooks it announced today. Three systems, the Latitude D630, D830 and D531, include features designed to give customers what Dell says they’ve asked for: longer battery life, increased performance and the latest wireless connectivity.

Dell claims the D630 performs 15 percent faster than the previous generation and provides up to 9.4 hours of life away from an electrical outlet. The D630 and D830 feature Intel Core 2 Duo processors while the lower-priced D531 offers a choice of AMD Turion 64 or Sempron processors.

The notebooks also support these technologies (some optional, others available only in the D630 and D830):

  • Encrypted hard drive
  • Optional solid-state disk (aka., flash-based storage)
  • Dell Wireless 5520 HSDPA built-in mobile broadband (for Cingular and Vodafone)
  • Dell Wireless 5720 EV-DO Rev A built-in mobile broadband (for Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and TELUS)
  •  Displays that are up to 38 percent brighter than the previous generation notebooks
  • Integrated 802.11n wireless
  • Integrated smart cards and biometric readers

The 4.5- pound Latitude D630 features a 14.1-inch wide-aspect XGA display, and pricing starts at $1,189.

The 5.97-pound D830 includes a 15.4-inch wide-aspect XGA display and its base configuration starts at $1,249.

Finally, the Latitude D531 weighs in at 5.1 pounds, features a 14.1-inch wide-aspect XGA display ad starts at $839.

Toshiba is aiming at the mobile professional with its Tecra M9 notebook. Based on Intel’s Centrino Pro platform, which has four main components including the Core2 Duo Processor, a 965 Express chipset, the Wireless Wi-Fi Link 4965 AGN that supports draft 802.11n and Intel’s Active Management Technology, the Tecra M9, according to Toshiba, is optimized for Vista’s processing and graphics needs.

The Tecra M9 comes with a choice of integrated (i.e., residing on a chip) graphics to a discrete graphics card from NVIDIA with up to 383MB of memory. Toshiba also offers its EasyGuard technology, which is designed to make computing more reliable and secure. It includes a shock-absorbing design, hard disk protection and protection against liquid spills.

The “recommended” configuration includes the Intel Core Duo processor (T7500), Vista, 1024MB memory, 120GB hard drive, a DVD SuperMulti (+/-R double layer) drive and a 14.1-inch widescreen display for $1,799.

Strong, cool and quiet: those are the words Lenovo uses to describe its two newest notebooks, the ThinkPad T61 and the ThinkPad R61. Both models offer 14.1-inch widescreen displays along with Intel’s updated Centrino Pro and Duo platform.

The notebooks’ new strength comes from the Top Cover Roll Cage, a feature that, Lenovo claims, protects and cushions the display and antenna and also reduces stress on the screen (when dropped) by 25 percent over previous generations. The company also claims to have improved its cooling system design and reduced surface temperatures by up to 10 percent  — and lowered the noise it generates by three decibels (over past generations of ThinkPads).

Taking advantage of Centrino’s power management capabilities, the T61 and R61 are designed to have longer battery life – with the help of a feature Lenovo calls Battery Stretch. It’s designed to let you decrease the display refresh rates, and turn off radio and Bluetooth options in order to get the most time out of your battery.

Other features include full encryption for hard drives, an integrated biometric fingerprint reader, smart card reader and a choice between integrated or discrete graphics. Pricing for the Thinkpad T61 and the ThinkPad R61 start at $1,399 and $1,249 respectively.

A third notebook, the Lenovo 3000 N200 fills the value laptop spot. It features a 15.4-inch widescreen display, wireless 802.11n, 10/100 Ethernet and Bluetooth technologies. Pricing starts at $1,099. You’ll find more specific configuration info at Lenovo’s Web site.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

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