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RealTime IT News

Intel's 'Santa Rosa' Powers New Notebooks

Notebook computer buyers are about to get a raft of new choices. Intel will formally introduce its latest mobile platform, the Centrino Pro, today at an event in San Francisco. The Centrino Pro was known by its codename 'Santa Rosa' while in development.

Dell  said it's going to wait till the fall to offer systems with the full Centrino Pro chipset and features, but Dell's new systems will be based on the latest Intel Core 2 Duo chips at the heart of Centrino Pro.

Brett McAnally, senior marketing manager for the Dell Latitude line of business notebooks, said "a big portion of the market is not committed to Centrino Pro," which includes Intel's Active Management Technology (AMT).

"We'll be releasing systems based on Santa Rosa without the AMT components," McAnally told internetnews.com. He said Dell currently supports the DASH management system developed by the Desktop Management Task Force standards body, which supports both Intel  and AMD  processors.

Dell also plans to release a consumer notebook, the D531 (US$839) that sports AMD Turion 64 and Sempron processors.

Dell is emphasizing power efficiency features and extended battery capabilities in the new systems. Dell said its thin-and-light (4.5 lbs) D630 (US$1,189) and D830 (US$1,249) offer as much as 9.4 hours of battery life. Security features supported include a fully encrypted hard drive.

Lenovo's three new notebooks are based on the Centrino Pro and are physically "the strongest" notebooks it's ever shipped. The lineup includes the ThinkPad T61 and R61 14-inch notebooks priced at $1,399 and $1,249 respectively. The N200 is a 15-inch widescreen notebook for $1,099 that is due out the end of this month.

Lenovo Centrino
So 'strong' it needs a cage.
Source: Lenovo

For years, Lenovo notebooks have included a magnesium alloy roll cage to the base unit; the latest notebooks include a new Top Cover Roll Cage, making the systems 20 percent stronger overall. The honeycomb design of the roll cage is meant to cushion the notebook's LCD screen and reduce stress on the display structure and antenna.

Lenovo is making further use of the top cover roll cage to improve wireless communications. "Traditionally, we put WAN  series antennae external to the cover to boost wireless signal, but now it's built in," Tom Butler, Lenovo's worldwide segment manager for notebooks, told internetnews.com. "This is a huge innovation for us."

Other features include improved thermal management that lowers the temperature by 10 percent and reduces noise level by three decibels over previous ThinkPad notebooks. Lenovo is also including a "Battery Stretch" feature that lets users control settings such as screen refresh to squeeze out extra battery life when on a long airplane flight or running out of power.

Fujitsu will also support Centrino Pro this month in four new LifeBook notebooks. These include the company's flagship corporate desktop model the LifeBook E8410, as well as the Lifebook T4220 convertible Tablet PC.

Analyst Roger Kay said the Centrino Pro has several noteworthy features, but isn't a huge step forward overall in mobile. "Consumers buy when they're ready to buy, this isn't going to jumpstart that market," Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates, told internetnews.com.

But Kay said corporate buyers will be pleased with several features in Centrino Pro, including AMT, which is designed to help IT managers keep track of their PC inventory and diagnose and repair those systems from a remote console even when the systems are turned off or suffer an OS or hard drive crash.