Toshiba revamps entire product line

With a large convoy of notebook announcements expected to come down the pike next week at PC Expo, in New York, Toshiba is rolling out an across-the-board lineup of new portables.

With a large convoy of notebook announcements expected to come down the pike next week at PC Expo, in New York, Toshiba is rolling out an across-the-board lineup of new portables.

The launch, which encompasses the value line of Satellite notebooks, subportable Portege, and high-end Tecra series, follows a season that was marked by an absence of new product announcements from Toshiba.

But analysts say the one-shot, comprehensive product refresh is a strategy typically -- and often successfully -- employed by the world's No. 1 notebook manufacturer.

"We view Toshiba as a company that is a machine, operating on all cylinders," says Randy Guisto, senior analyst for mobile computing at International Data, in Framingham, Massachusetts. "This is a clear-cut evolution of all the product families, and they are hitting all the price points with all the right features."

Among the new notebooks is a beefed-up version of Toshiba's subportable. The new Portege 650CT, which will be available in August and will cost US$4499, still weighs in at 2.2kg but has been redesigned to include a full-size keyboard and a larger, 11.3in active matrix screen, driven by a 64-bit PCI graphics controller with 2Mb of Extended Data Out DRAM.

The Portege 650CT includes a faster, 133-MHz Pentium processor, 16Mb of RAM, a 1.26Gb hard drive, an integrated 28.8Kbit/s fax/modem, an infrared port and Zoomed Video technology (allowing it to run full-motion MPEG video).

Among its multimedia features is 16-bit SoundBlaster Pro-compatible sound.

The addition to Toshiba's high-performance notebooks, the Tecra 500 line, has two new models, the 500CS and 500CDT. Available in July and priced at US$3999 and US$4999, the Tecra 500 series is being positioned as Toshiba's mid-range, high-performance option. The company's flagship notebook -- the Tecra 720 line, which includes power features such as 133-MHz Pentium processors -- will continue to be produced.

"We see the Tecra 500 as rounding out the middle of the line," says Jeffrey Friederichs, vice-president of worldwide marketing for Toshiba.

The 500 series machines include 120-MHz Pentium processors, 16Mb of RAM (expandable to 144Mb), 256Kb of Level 2 cache, a 1.26Gb hard drive, PCI bus architecture, 16-bit SoundBlaster Pro-compatible audio, an integrated AC adapter and Zoomed Video and infrared ports.

The 500CDT boasts a 12.1in active matrix LCD and a standard six-speed CD-ROM.

To make way for the new products, Toshiba is discontinuing its 2130 line of 486-based notebooks, along with its 400 and 410S series and the Tecra 700 line, which will be replaced with the Tecra 500 series. The company says it is also boosting its production to eliminate existing back orders.

"We're cleaning up the channel as we make the transition to the new products," Friederichs says.

The company has also refreshed its value Satellite 110 line and the Satellite Pro 420 series. All new models will be available in July. The Satellite 110CS and 110CT now offer users faster 100-MHz Pentium processors and larger 11.3in dual-scan or active matrix displays, and they are priced at US$2299 and US$2799, respectively.

The Satellite Pro 420 series also features a larger screen and faster processor, plus beefed-up multimedia capabilities, including a six-speed integrated CD-ROM, Zoomed Video technology, and the capability to run full- motion MPEG video.

The 420CDS is priced at US$2999; the 420CDT is priced at US$3899. Both will be available in July.

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