Toshiba revamps Satellites, Tablet

SAN FRANCISCO (03/10/2004) - Toshiba Corp. has released three new notebooks in its Satellite line, all targeting price-conscious shoppers, and has updated its Portege 205 Tablet PC.

Toshiba expects the multimedia-oriented Satellite M30-S350 to retail for about US$1600. The estimated street price for the low-end A10-S100 is $1050. The A40-S161, which Toshiba is touting as a desktop replacement, is expected to sell for $1180. The Portege M205 Tablet PC will command a considerably higher price, $2500.

Tablet Revamped

The Portege M205 extends the M200 family, which was introduced last fall. The new version incorporates two primary improvements: Its hard drive has grown from 40GB to 60GB, and its built-in WiFi support now meets the 802.11g standard.

In all other respects, this is the same machine. It can be used as a regular notebook or--after the user rotates the screen and lays it flat with its back against the keyboard--as a tablet. At 11.6 by 9.8 by 1.3 inches (1.5 inches if you count the little rubber feet), it's reasonably comfortable to hold in one arm while you write on it with your other hand (though you won't mistake it for a pad of paper). It comes with a 1.5-GHz Pentium M processor, 512MB of RAM, and NVidia graphics.

According to Toshiba's numbering scheme, the third digit of the product's name refers to its distribution; the 205 is marketed in retail outlets, while models whose names contain the number 200 are available directly from the manufacturer or from resellers.

Budget Notebooks

The Pentium M processor currently dominates notebooks, but Toshiba bucks the trend with its new Satellite models. Two of the three new Satellites use older CPUs. The A40 runs on a 2.66-GHz Mobile Pentium 4, while the cheaper A10 makes do with a 2.50-GHz Celeron. Though these processors help keep the Satellites' prices low, they suck more power than the Pentium M, which has a deleterious effect on battery life.

The A10 measures 13 by 11.5 by 1.5 inches and weighs 6.3 pounds. The A40 is 13.2 by 11.7 by 1.9 inches and weighs 7.7 pounds. Both come with 256MB of RAM, a 40GB hard drive, and a 15-inch display.

Toshiba designed the more expensive M30 as a notebook for road warriors--and especially for those who want to watch DVDs. This model comes with a 1.5-GHz Pentium M and Intel's Centrino technology for longer battery life, faster performance, and better wireless capabilities. The 15.4-inch wide-screen display improves movie viewing and permits a better view of two side-by-side programs; on the other hand, it isn't as tall as a 15-inch regular-shape screen.

Like the A10 and the A40, the M30 has 256MB of RAM. On the other hand, like the M205 tablet, it comes with integrated 802.11g WiFi. The A40 has a built-in Wi-Fi antenna, but it requires an upgrade (which you won't be able to do yourself) before you can use it. To establish a wireless connection for the A10, you'll have to plug in a PC Card.

All three Satellites come with modems, ethernet, and USB 2.0 ports for wired connectivity. All four Toshiba notebooks announced Tuesday carry Microsoft Corp.'s OneNote note-taking and organizing program, as well as a DVD-ROM/CD-R/RW drive.

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