News Bits: New Alienware Notebooks, Core Duo 2.33GHz Coming, Toshiba Tecra A8 Released

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New Alienware Core Duo notebooks

June 28th – Alienware today added three new Core Duo notebooks to its lineup, with screen sizes from 14″ to 17″. The new models are the Sentia m3450, Area-51 m5550, and Area-51 m5750.

Sentia m3450

The Sentia m3450 is Alienware’s smallest and most portable Core Duo notebook, weighing in at 4.5lb with a 14.1″ display, and processor options from the base T2300 to the high-end T2600. Although Alienware machines are normally associated with gaming, the m3450 is an exception to that, with the integrated Intel GMA950 for graphics. The screen’s maximum resolution is 1280×768 (WXGA).

The m3450 has a CDRW/DVD combo drive and a 40GB hard disk standard, upgradeable to an 8X DVD+/-RW DL drive and 120GB of storage. It features three USB 2.0 ports, one firewire port, an ExpressCard slot, 4-in-1 media reader and integrated webcam.

Area-51 m5550

The Area-51 m5550 is Alienware’s 6lb mid-range notebook. It features a dedicated graphics card – a 128MB ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 is standard, while a 256MB Nvidia GeForce Go7600 is optional. Screen resolutions range from the base WXGA (1280×768) to WUXGA (1920×1200). The m5550 features the same ports as the Sentia m3450 with the exception of the integrated webcam.

Area-51 m5750

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Alienware’s newest high-end notebook is the 8lb, 17″ Area-51 m5750. Obviously targeted for the high-end gamer, it features dedicated graphics – a 128MB ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 is standard, with a more powerful Mobility Radeon X1800 256MB optional. The m5750 has up to two internal hard drives, configurable in a RAID array. Screen resolutions range from the standard WXGA+ (1440×900) to WUXGA (1920×1200). Both screens are glossy.

The m5750 has 4 USB 2.0 ports, firewire, and a 4-in-1 media reader.

The Sentia m3450 will begin shipping on July 10th, with the m5550 and m5750 following on July 24th. The m3450 starts at $1,099, m5550 at $1,399, and m5750 at $1,499.

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Intel ships two new Core Duo CPUs

Intel is expected to start shipping two new Core Duo models this week – the top-end 2.33GHz T2700 and ultra low-voltage U2500.

The T2700 replaces the T2600 (2.16GHz) as the new top-end CPU in the Core Duo lineup, targeted for high-end notebooks and DTRs (desktop replacements). It will sell for $637 in quantities of 1,000.

The ultra low-voltage Core Duo U2500 is the second model added to the lineup, consuming only nine watts of power. It has a 1.2GHz clock speed with a 533MHz FSB (front-side bus). It will be the only ultra low-voltage dual-core CPU Intel has until the launching of the Merom U7500 with the Santa Rosa platform in Q2 2007. The U2500 consumes less than 1W of power during idle operation, and will sell for $289 per chip in quantities of 1,000.

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Sony to fit UX ultraportable with flash disk

June 27th – Sony announced it will use flash memory when it launches a new model of its Vaio U next week. It will be the first on the market that uses a flash drive in place of the traditional hard drive. Flash disks run silently, offer faster data access, and use less power; price is the limiting factor.

The Vaio UX90 will come with a 16GB flash disk in place of the 30GB hard drive on the original UX. It will go on sale in Japan on July 3rd, with a price tag of $1,805.

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Lenovo to end partnership with Quanta for ThinkPad production

After taking its final delivery of ThinkPad Z60 notebooks, Lenovo will end its partnership with Quanta Computer next year.

Lenovo has decided to end the partnership because of poor market acceptance for the Z series, the sources said. Wistron will become the only Taiwan notebook maker for Lenovo’s ThinkPad line. Wistron has been making the ThinkPad R and X series.

The Z series widescreen ThinkPad was launched after Lenovo acquired IBM’s PC division. Wistron will become the only notebook maker for Lenovo’s Thinkpad line; it is currently manufacturing the R and X series.

Compal Electronics and Wistron will continue to manufacture Lenovo-branded notebooks.

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Apple adjusts 17″ MacBook Pro fans

Apple has posted a firmware update for its 17″ MacBook Pro. It adjusts the notebook’s System Management Controller (SMC), a device that ‘monitors and manages Intel-based Macs’ power-related functions.’

The device oversees the battery, sleep light, monitors the hard drive’s sudden motion sensor, and runs the machine’s fans. Apple says the update ‘adjusts fan behavior’.

Apple has yet to address many irritating issues with the MacBook pro, such as the high-pitched noise some MacBooks emit while running on batteries.

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Acer unveils ‘MacBook-like’ laptop

Acer unveiled its MacBook-like TravelMate 3020, sporting a ‘pure, clean’ design. According to Acer, the color scheme represents “images of pureness, cleanliness and maximum lightness”.

The TravelMate 3020 features a 12.1″ widescreen WXGA (1280×800) display with Intel’s integrated GMA950 providing the graphics solution. It uses the latest Core Duo processors and Intel’s 802.11a/b/g WiFi chip. Bluetooth 2.0 is standard. Topping off the feature list is a 1.3 megapixel webcam, hard drive motion sensor, Windows XP Pro, and a three-cell battery. Weight is only 1.5kg, with the optical drive being external. Acer has not provided any pricing information at this time.

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Toshiba Releases Tecra A8

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Toshiba this week released the Tecra A8, they’re dubbing it as their most durable notebook to date — a point supported by Toshiba including a free year of SystemGuard coverage to guard against any accidental damage.  The Tecra A8 is a business machine with a 15.4″ widescreen display and Intel Core Duo processor.

The Tecra A8 is available from now for a starting price of $699.

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