EMachines notebooks jump to 64-bit

SAN FRANCISCO (01/16/2004) - Budget computer maker EMachines Inc. is moving its notebook lineup into the fast lane by juicing two new models with Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s recently announced speedy 64-bit mobile processors.

EMachines is officially announcing the two notebooks, the M6805 and M6807, on Monday.

Notebook Specs

Pricing starts at US$1549 for the M6805 laptop, which runs a mobile Athlon 64 processor 3000+ and comes with 512MB of RAM, a 60GB hard drive, a combination CD-burner/DVD-ROM drive, and Wi-Fi 802.11g capabilities.

The top-of-the-line model, the M6807, is priced at $1649. Its features mirror the M6805, except that it ships with a DVD±RW drive. Both units weigh in at 7.5 pounds and include a 2.5-hour lithium ion battery, as well as ATI's Mobility Radeon 9600 video card, a 6-in-1 media reader, and the Microsoft Windows XP Home operating system. EMachines notebooks are sold through Best Buy and Circuit City.

The chief advantage of 64-bit chips over the still-dominant 32-bit chips is improved performance of data-intensive tasks such as audio and video encoding, design applications, and games.

Portable Ambitions

"We are trying to crack the notebook market," says Greg Memo, EMachines executive vice president of platform development and operations. However, the vendor can't take quite the same approach as it does when selling budget desktop PCs. Notebook components are expensive, compared with desktops, Memo adds. Rather, EMachines is positioning these power notebooks as desktop replacements.

"Our 64-bit offerings are geared toward power users, gamers, and anyone ready to ditch their desktop," Memo says.

EMachines is the fourth largest U.S. computer maker by fourth quarter 2003 sales, according to research analysts at IDC. EMachines does not share the same leadership in U.S. notebook sales, however. With these announcements, EMachines hopes to profit from the growing popularity of desktop replacement machines, says IDC analyst Roger Kay. By 2007 almost 40 percent of PC shipments worldwide will be notebooks, IDC forecasts.

"64-bit notebooks give EMachines cachet amid its otherwise low-cost budget PC image," Kay says.

EMachines began promoting notebooks in its product line in mid-2003. When the company was launched in 1998, it sold a notebook for a brief time, but then concentrated on desktop systems.

Marching to 64 Bits

Voodoo PC claims the title of fastest notebook with the recent release of the Envy M:855, which is based on the Athlon 64 3200+ CPU.

Pricing for Voodoo's entry-level 64-bit offering starts at $2591. The notebook runs Windows XP Home and has a 15-inch, 1400-by-1050-resolution display powered by ATI's Radeon 9600 chip set with 64MB of memory; a 40GB hard drive; and a 2X DVD-RW optical drive that also burns CDs. You get a full range of built-in connectivity, too, such as 802.11g wireless, 10/100 Ethernet, and a 56-kilobits-per-second modem.

Another vendor expected to enter the portable 64-bit race is Alienware Corp., which has announced plans to market notebooks based on the Athlon 64 3400+ this winter. The new mobile AMD 64 chips will be in systems from Fujitsu Ltd. and Siemens AG, which both said they will also use AMD's mobile 3400+ chips in desktop systems.

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