MPC Slims Down Its TransPort Notebook

The PC maker enters the under-4-pound notebook market with the TransPort U1000, which offers a built-in optical drive.

MPC Computers, which focuses on government and education buyers, has joined the smallest race in business computing.

The PC maker on Monday launched a new 3.8-pound notebook that aims to compete with lightweight machines from the likes of Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Lenovo Group LTD.

MPC Computers LLCs TransPort U1000, which weighs 3.8 pounds and represents the companys first foray into the small notebook space, pairs an Intel Pentium M processor with a 12.1-inch screen and incorporates an optical drive and tri-band Wi-Fi module for a starting price of about $1,800.

Lightweight notebooks, which companies typically dole out to executives and frequent travelers, arent as popular as their larger brethren, in part because they sell for a premium over the larger notebooks. But they have seen resurgence of late.

Dell, Lenovo Group, which took over IBMs PC business, Gateway Inc. and Toshiba America Inc. have all launched numerous new models in recent months, some of which weigh in at even less than 3 pounds.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read more about Dells new ultralight Latitude notebook.

Thus MPC set out to differentiate its TransPort U1000 from the crowd by offering a unique carbon fiber lid, a built-in optical drive and a 4-in-1 memory card reader. The built-in optical drive is a feature typically found in larger machines, as the drive takes up space and also adds weight. Most competing products, including Dells Latitude D410, which offers a close match in features, have external drives.

"MPC has invested significant R&D resources to offer our customers a lightweight, ultraportable notebook product that does not sacrifice performance or an integrated optical device," Paul Petersen, MPCs vice president of product marketing and development, said in a statement.

The U1000 starts at about $1,800 when a customer selects a 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M 725, 256MB of RAM, a 40GB, 5,400 rpm hard drive, a combination CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive and Microsoft Windows XP Professional Edition operating system. The 12.1-inch XGA resolution display, combination tri-band Wi-Fi module and a three-cell battery are standard equipment.

/zimages/3/28571.gifHyperSpace is planning to acquire MPC Computers. Read more here.

Faster Pentium Ms are available, along with greater amounts of RAM, larger and faster hard drives and accessories such as an external floppy drive. Customers who trade down to Windows XP Home or an Intel Celeron M can also shave a few dollars from the machines price.

Dells Latitude D410, a close match in weight and features, costs less. It starts at about $1,650 when configured to match the TransPort U1000, Dells medium and large business Web store shows. But the Latitudes optical drive must be attached via a cable or mounted inside a base the machine slips into.

Companies looking for even smaller, sub-3-pound machines will find they have to pay more.

Dells 2.5-pound Latitude X1, which comes with a 12.1-inch wide screen, starts at about $1,650, the price of a more fully configured Latitude D410. Meanwhile, Lenovos IBM ThinkPad X Series, which weighs in at about 2.7 pounds, typically sells for closer to $2,000. Toshiba, which offers numerous notebooks under 3 pounds, recently relaunched its tiny Libretto laptop. The 2.1-pound machine, which comes with a 7.2-inch screen, starts at about $2,000.

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