IBM Unveils ThinkPads with Wireless Connections

IBM will begin offering new laptops later this year with internal antennas to provide wireless connections, the company said Thursday.

The new laptops, which are priced starting at $US1,399, are part of IBM's ThinkPad i Series, said David Nichols, IBM's worldwide market segment manager. The laptops will be the first Intel Corp. processor-based systems from IBM that offer 802.11b wireless LAN technology. The 802.11b standard from the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) is for wireless communications running in the 2.4GHz spectrum, which allows transmission speeds as fast as 11M-bps (bits per second).

IBM said the new laptops will be marketed toward the student and small business market and be available in October. IBM will also offer the IBM High Rate Wireless LAN Access Point -- similar to a cordless phone bay station -- to connect the ThinkPad i Series 1300 models (models 21U and 71U) to other laptops equipped with antennas.

Nichols said they offer a connection that has a range of between 200 feet (60 meters) and 250 feet (75 meters) and can reach about 300 feet (about 91 meters) depending on a building's construction. An access point will start at $US999, Nichols said.

Later this year, IBM is expected to announce new wireless laptops designed for the corporate setting. IBM on Thursday also announced its Bluetooth PC Card that will be available in October starting at $US189. The card will allow a wireless connection between computers, cell phones and other handheld technology.

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