Dell lightens ultraportable notebook load

Business travelers and students tired of lugging older Dell notebooks will have a new, lighter option with the release of the Inspiron 300m and Latitude X300.

Both machines weigh less than three pounds (1.35 kilograms), and become the lightest notebooks in Dell's inventory with Tuesday's announcement. Each PC uses Intel's Centrino package of chips, comprised of the Low Voltage Pentium M processor, a mobile chipset, and the Intel Pro/Wireless 2100 chip for accessing 802.11b wireless networks.

The Latitude X300 comes in a base configuration with a 1.2GHz Low Voltage Pentium M processor, 128M bytes of DDR (double data rate) SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM), a 20G-byte hard drive, a CD-ROM drive, and a 12.1-inch display for US$1,599. The Latitude measures 10.8 inches wide by 9.2 inches deep by 0.9 inches thick (27.5 cm by 23.4 cm by 2.4 cm).

A base configuration of the Inspiron 300m also costs $1,599 with the 1.2GHz Low Voltage Pentium M chip, 256M bytes of DDR SDRAM, a 30G-byte hard drive, a DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive, and a 12.1-inch display. It weighs 2.99 pounds, and has the same dimensions as the X300.

The Inspiron 300m will be available for purchase from Dell's Web site on Friday, but can be ordered as of Tuesday by entering an E-Value code of 1234-D80815Y at Dell's Home and Home Office Web page, a Dell spokeswoman said.

The new systems are lighter than rival Hewlett-Packard's smallest ultraportable notebooks. The Compaq nc4000 checks in at 3.5 pounds and $1,699, but comes with a more powerful 1.4GHz Pentium M processor, a larger hard drive, and Gigabit Ethernet capability. Customers must buy an upgraded model to get wireless connectivity.

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