Toshiba, Fujitsu Netbooks Enter Crowded U.S. Market

Toshiba and Fujitsu are each preparing to enter into the U.S. netbook market with mininotebook offerings announced to coincide with the Computex show in Taipei, Taiwan. Toshiba plans to offer the Mini NB205 netbook for U.S. consumers and business users in late June, while Fujitsu is now rolling out the M2010 netbook, which sells for $449 and is geared toward the education market.

Toshiba and Fujitsu are each rolling out a mininotebook for the U.S. netbook market that will put both companies in direct competition with rivals such as Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Asus, Acer and Lenovo.

On June 2, Toshiba officially announced its first netbook for the North American market, called the Mini NB205. In addition, Fujitsu America announced that it would begin selling the M2010 netbook with a focus on the education market. The rollout of the Fujitsu and Toshiba netbooks coincided with the start of the Computex show in Taipei, Taiwan, where Intel and Advanced Micro Devices kicked off the event with several major processor announcements.

Toshiba and Fujitsu are just the latest PC makers to enter what is quickly becoming a crowded part of the personal computer market. While netbooks, or mininotebooks, are less expensive than full-fledged laptops, these devices are the one bright spot in a global PC market hit hard by both the recession in the United States and a sluggish economy worldwide.

A May report by the NPD Group showed that netbook sales were highest along both U.S. coasts as people look for cheaper companions to their laptops. In addition, carriers such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T are now looking to subsidize netbook prices provided that users commit to the carrier's data plan and service, which is similar to how cell phones and smartphones are sold.

To see Lenovo's IdeaPad S12 netbook, click here.

The Toshiba Mini NB205 and the Fujitsu M2010 are fairly standard netbooks and offer many of the same features.

The Fujitsu M2010 mininotebook, which starts at $449, offers a 10.1-inch screen and weighs 2.5 pounds. The Fujitsu netbook offers a standard Intel Atom N270 processor running at 1.6GHz along with support for DDR2 (double data rate 2) memory that expands from 1GB to 2GB, depending on the configuration.

The M2010 netbook also offers a 160GB hard disk drive, three USB ports, a keyboard that is 90 percent the size of standard laptop keyboard, support for Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition, WLAN and standard three-cell battery that offers 2.5 hours of battery life. An optional six-cell battery is also available.

Fujitsu is marketing the M2010 netbook for the education sector. In May, Dell began talking about a rugged netbook offering, the Dell Latitude 2100, also created for the education market.

The Toshiba Mini NB205 is being offered in two different models: the Toshiba Mini NB205-N310, which sells for $399, and the NB205-N210, which retails for $349. However, both versions of the Toshiba netbook offer the same types of features, although they are offered in different colors with different finishes.

The Mini NB205, which weighs 2.9 pounds, uses the slightly faster Intel Atom N280 processor, which runs at 1.66GHz. The Mini NB205 offers a 10.1-inch backlit LED display, a choice of 1GB or 2GB of DDR2 memory and a 160GB hard disk drive.

Other features of the Mini NB205 include support for Windows XP Home, 802.11 b/g wireless technologies, two USB ports and a six-cell battery that offers up to 9 hours of battery life.

While Toshiba plans to start selling the Mini NB205 in late June, the Fujitsu M2010 is immediately available.