Tiny Notebooks Loom Large

Lightweight laptops will nearly double in numbers in the next few years. But will they take over the market?

Tiny new laptops from Dell and Fujitsu Computer Systems are taking flight, continuing a trend toward lighter-weight systems.

Fujitsu Computer Systems delivered the 2.2-pound LifeBook Q2010 on June 19, while Dell unveiled its Latitude D420, which weighs 3 pounds, on June 20.

The machines fit into the ultraportable category, which includes notebooks that weigh up to 4 pounds and have 12-inch screens.

Despite being somewhat limited by their size—the machines reside on the small side of ultraportable space and thus dont come with internal optical drives—the companies believe theyll find a market among traveling executives who value light weight over all else, including price and ultimate performance.

The lightweight LifeBook, which measures only .75-inches thick, offers a 12.1-inch screen. It also comes with a 1.2GHz Intel Core Solo Ultra Low Voltage processor from Intel, Wi-Fi 802.11 wireless and security measures including a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) 1.2 and a fingerprint sensor.

The machine, which features a three-cell battery, starts at $1,999 when fitted with a 30GB hard drive, 512MB of RAM and a one-year warranty, according to Fujitsus Web site.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read more about Dells WWAN offerings.

Dells Latitude D420, meanwhile, weighs 3 pounds but offers the ability to house built-in WWAN (wireless wide area networking) hardware for accessing networks from Cingular or Verizon Wireless.


The machine also offers a 12.1-inch wide-aspect display with a 1.06GHz low power Core Solo Ultra Low Voltage processor from Intel.

When fitted with 512MB of RAM, a 30GB hard drive and a four-cell battery, the D420 starts at a little over $1,400, according to Dells Medium & Large Business online store.

Dell also offers options for a fingerprint reader, higher-energy six-cell and nine-cell batteries and external optical drives as well as docking. The company will offer a dual-core processor version of the machine later the summer of 2006, a representative said.

The two machines arrive at a time when the ultraportable category, helped along by overall demand for notebooks, is growing. The market for ultraportables has increased in part because of lower prices and consumer demand, analysts said.

Gateway, which began offering its 3-pound E-100M notebook on March 30, 2006, believes that combining light weight, wide screen displays, WWAN capabilities and long-lasting batteries will foster greater growth of ultraportables.

Such machines are "positioned for growth now. Its very reasonable to suggest that this segment could be twice as large as it is now," said William Diehl, vice president of product marketing at Gateway, in Irvine, Calif., during a recent interview with eWEEK.

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