Features pump up slim, nimble notebooks

Thin is in.


Notebook computers are slimming down, while their hard drives are ballooning. In the
next year, the notebook marketplace will be hopping--some manufacturers will introduce a
new portable every three months as they phase out older models.


Intel Corp.'s 150-MHz Pentium for notebooks will make a debut, but don't expect much
boost to processing power. The bus on a Pentium 133 runs at 66 MHz; the Pentium 150 will
be on a 60-MHz board.


However, there will be performance boosts from other components, notably video
accelerators. We've already seen impressive video benchmark scores from Dell Computer
Corp.'s 128-bit accelerators.


Video memory and standard RAM are moving across the board to the extended-data-out
(EDO) variety for faster access.


Notebook hard drives are swelling, and 2G is within grasp. Happily, there won't be much
if any increased drain on batteries. Lithium ion will continue to be notebooks' best basic
power source.


As manufacturers pump up performance and features, they're figuring out how to make
notebooks slimmer. Here are just a few recent introductions:


Expect to pay $4,599 for a unit with a Pentium 133, 11.8-inch active SVGA display and
1G drive. Add about $600 for CD-ROM/sound dock and extra battery. However, Armada 4100s
are expected to be in short supply for a while.


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