Toshiba unveils ultra-thin 802.11 notebook

Toshiba America Information Systems Inc. (TAIS) uncovered its thinnest notebook yet on Monday, the Portégé 2000, which weighs less than three pounds and has built-in support for wireless networking.

The Portégé 2000 weighs in at 2.6 pounds (1.17 kilograms) and measures between 0.75 inches (1.9 centimeters) at its thickest and just 0.6 inches at its thinnest, said Masa Okumura, Toshiba's director of product marketing and worldwide planning. Toshiba has a very specific target audience in mind with the notebook: "executives and senior management who are out of the office about 70 percent of the time," Okumura said.

The Protégé 2000 features Intel Corp.'s ultra-low-voltage Pentium III Processor-M running at 750MHz, a 12.1-inch TFT (thin-film transistor) display, 256M bytes of RAM and a built-in Ethernet port and modem. The notebook has built-in 802.11b wireless networking technology, with the antenna built into the unit just above the keyboard, Okumura said. The notebook also has two USB (universal serial bus) ports, a port for an external monitor and infrared capabilities, he said.

Toshiba used new technologies in its notebook to get both the thickness and weight down to new levels, including its recently announced 20G-byte 1.8-inch (4.6 centimeter) hard drive and a lithium polymer battery, Okumura said. The hard drive, which Toshiba announced last week, is smaller than the hard drive used in most portable music players.

Toshiba also went with the lithium polymer battery to keep with the thin and light theme, Okumura said. "While other (battery) cells are usually cylindrical, you can make these very flat and thin," he said. The standard battery offers about two hours of life on the normal battery setting, while the additional high-capacity battery holds a charge for an additional 4.5 hours of use, he said.

Toshiba also added a Secure Digital (SD) Media slot to the Portégé 2000 for multimedia capabilities. A 256M-byte SD card, which can also be used with some PDAs (personal digital assistants) and portable MP3 music players, can hold up to four hours of music or 80 minutes of video, Toshiba said.

However, Okumura admits that the design is not for everyone, because components such as a DVD (digital versatile disc) drive and CD player must be external, connected through the USB or PC card slots. "If users are planning on high DVD use, we would recommend the Protégé 4000," he said. The Portégé 4000 features a built-in DVD drive.

The Portégé 2000 will be available worldwide from early February, priced at US$2,199.

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Douglas F. Gray

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