PC Vendors Ready New Intel-Based Notebooks

Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Toshiba and Fujitsu are preparing to offer new notebooks that are based on the Intel Centrino 2 mobile platform.

PC vendors are lining up to offer new notebooks based on Intel's Centrino 2 mobile platform.

In the hours following Intel's debut of the Centrino platform, Lenovo, Toshiba and Fujitsu each launched a number of consumer and enterprise notebooks based on Intel's new mobile technologies. HP, the world's No. 1 PC vendor, detailed a number of new notebooks in June that will start shipping late July and will offer the latest technologies found in Centrino 2, including the rugged HP EliteBook.

With the launch of Intel Centrino 2, Lenovo rolled out an ambitious series of products that included a line of notebooks for small and midsize businesses called the ThinkPad SL Series, and the company refreshed its line of traditional enterprise-class ThinkPad notebooks. Lenovo's updated ThinkPad line includes refreshed versions, new models and an updated numbering scheme for the ThinkPad R400, R500, T400, T500, the X200 and the W500.

The launch of Intel Centrino 2 comes at an anxious time for the PC industry as OEMs look toward back-to-school and enterprise sales to help boost profits going into the third quarter of 2008. So far, research reports seem to indicate that PC shipments have not slowed as the U.S. economy has weakened. PC sales have been helped along thanks to continued interest in notebooks both in the United States and overseas.

The release of Intel's Centrino 2 and Advanced Micro Devices' latest mobile platform should help continue to create interest in laptops in both the consumer and enterprise markets.

Intel will report its second-quarter financial numbers July 15, and AMD will follow on July 17. Those figures should give the industry a better idea of how the U.S. economy is affecting the PC and IT hardware markets.

Despite the economic uncertainty, PC vendors are still introducing notebooks with Centrino 2 technology.

In the case of Lenovo, the company used the Intel Centrino launch to offer ThinkPad-branded notebooks into the SMB market for the first time. Lenovo also plans to unveil five IdeaPad laptops for the consumer market.

The ThinkPads for midmarket and SMB customers include the SL300, the SL400 and the SL500. Lenovo also changed its labeling for all of its ThinkPads. The "3" now stands for 13.3-inch display, while "4" stands for 14.1-inch and "5" represents 15.4-inch.

"We had been selling into small business with our existing ThinkPad portfolio and this represents a new focus, if you will, of Lenovo and ThinkPad to provide a small-business focused solution," said Charles Sune, a segment manager for Lenovo's ThinkPad SL line, adding that the starting prices for these three models begins at $799.

Fujitsu, which is not as well known in the United States, makes a series of interesting but expensive PCs. The company is launching a total of six notebooks that will use the Intel Centrino 2 platform. There are several enterprise models, including a desktop-replacement laptop called the LifeBook E8420, which has a 15.4-inch wide screen, uses the Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 processor (2.4GHz) and has 2GB of DD3 (double data rate 3) memory and a 250GB hard disk drive. The starting price for the LifeBook E8420 is $1,359.

In addition, Fujitsu is offering an enterprise-class tablet called the LifeBook T5010, which has a 13.3-inch display and weighs 4.5 pounds. The T5010, which replaces the T4220, offers a modular bay that can support an optical drive or second battery, and the tablet will also come equipped with Intel's latest vPro technology for remote management and enhanced security.

Finally, Toshiba is offering several refreshes within its notebook product lines. The company will use the Centrino 2 platform to refresh its Tecra portfolio with two new notebooks: the Tecra M10 and the Tecra A10. These are Toshiba's business notebooks that offer Intel's vPro technology and offer the option of a 64GB or 128GB solid-state drive.