Notebooks Leap to Core 2 Duo

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The stars have aligned, the PR firms have stretched and flexed and assumed their stances at the starting line, and bang!—today the announcements of new Core 2 Duo-powered notebook and portable systems leave the gates in a mad dash for your wallets. These Core 2 Duo systems are, for the most part, Core Duo systems retrofitted with Intel’s newer Core 2 Duo technology—and in many cases virtually no other specs have changed from their earlier incarnations. And many are, for the moment, available only in Japan. But still—Core 2 Duo, right? Whoohoo!

Out to an early lead is Toshiba’s Quosmio G35 multimedia notebook, which aims to be your multimedia show horse with an HD DVD drive, HDMI, and 17-inch 1920 by 1200 pixel Ultimate TruBrite display, driven by a 256 MB GeForce Go 7600 graphics controller and a 2 GHz Core 2 Duo CPU (with 4 MB of L2 cache and a 667 MHz frontside bus). Inside—and along the side panels—you’ll find two 120 GB SATA hard drives, 802.11a/b/g and Bluetooth wireless networking, and gigabit Ethernet, four USB 2.0 ports, a four-pin FireWire/1394 port, ExpressCard and PC Card compatibility, S-video input and output, HDMI output, AV input, plus a 5-in-1 media card reader. Add in fingerprint recognition, a TV tuner, Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, and a Harmon/Kardon-designed sound system with enhanced bass response, and the $3,500 price tag almost seems justified. The Qosmio G35 is available right now.

Next up: Velocity Micro with its six-pound NoteMagix L80 Ultra, featuring a 15.4-inch LCD display (1,280 by 800), a 1.3 megapixel Web cam, a 4-1in one media card reader, and an optional upgrade to Nvidea GeForce Go graphics, 7,200 rpm 100 GB hard drive, and a dual laryer DVD burner—and, naturally, Core 2 Duo processors from 1.83 to 2.1 GHz. Systems can be ordered now with shipping expected to get underway September 10; prices start at $16.95. An optional upgrade to an ultra-sharp 1680 by 1050 15.4-inch LCD display is also available.

Not to be outrun, Alienware has announced three Core 2 Duo-enabled notebooks, all starting with somewhat meager bas configurations but moving uphill quickly. The 14.1-inch Sentia m3450 starts off with 512 MB of RAM, 1 1.66 Ghz Core 2 Duo processor with 2 MB of cache, Windows XP Home Edition, Intel integrated graphics, a 40 GB hard drive, a CD/DVD combo drive, gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g wireless networking, and a $849 price tag after a $100 rebate. Upgrade options are available for virtually everything but the graphics controller; if you want spiffier pixels, you’ll want to check out the Area-51 m5550 or Area-51 m5750 notebooks: the m5550 is available with either 128 MB ATI Mobility Radeon x1400 or 256 MB Nvidia GeForce Go 7600 controllers, while the M5750 leads the pack with the 256 MB ATI Mobility Radeon X1800 standard. Both Area-51 notebooks can be pimped out with fast, capacious drives, plenty of RAM, and offer a bevy of multimedia and gaming possibilities, in addition to 15.4- and 17-inch displays (respectively) and Core 2 Duo processors running at up to 2.33 GHz. Pricing on the Area-51 m5550 starts at $899 after $200 instant rebate; the m5750 starts at $1,399 after a similar rebate. All Alienware models are scheduled to be available September 4, 2006.

Direct marketer Dell would never want to be left out of a race like this, and has announced Core 2 Duo updates to its XPS M1710, M1210, and M2010 systems, plus the Inspiron E1705. The XPS M21010 comes in at a whopping $3,500, with Core 2 Duo processors starting at 2 GHz, a 20.1-inch widescreen LCD display, integrated Web cam, eight speakers, FireWire, USB, ExpressCard, 13-in-2 media card reader, DVI video, plus S-Video, component, and S/PDIF output. The maybe-slightly saner M1710 debuts at $2,300 with a 17-inch LCD display driven by a 512 MB Nvidia GeForce Go 7900 GTX controller, while the XPS 1210 has a much more portable 12.1-inch display and a starting price around $1,200. The Inspiron E1705 starts out at $939 and offers a 17-inch widescreen display, but the Core 2 Duo tops out at 2.16 GHz. The new XPS and Inspiron models are available today; Dell says Core 2 Duo options will be available for Inspiron E1505 and E1405 systems later this week, and the its Latitude D820, D620, and D520 will become Core 2 Duo enabled next week.

Now we move overseas: in Japan, Hewlett-Packard announced Core 2 Duo updates of its HP Compaq nx6320 and nx6310 notebooks (Japanese), aiming at budget-oriented power-seekers rather than gaming and multimedia aficionados. The units feature 15-inch and 14.1-inch LCD screens, respectively, along with a 1.66 GHz Core 2 Duo processor, Intel integrated graphics, a CD-ROM drive by default (upgrades optical drives are available), USB 2.0, built-in Ethernet, Window XP Home edition, and either 256 or 512 MB of RAM. The nx6=310 starts at ¥96,600, while the nx6320 starts at ¥111,300—that’s about $825 and $950, respectively, although prices may shift a bit if the systems reach U.S. shores.

Next up, Sotec with its Core 2 Duo-powered WindBook 7010 and WinBook DN8010, an update to its earlier DN 7000 and DN8000 notebooks. (All links in Japanese.) Both systems offer 802.11a/b/g about BlueTooth wireless networking, Ethernet, an ExpressCard slot, four USB 2.0 ports, and S/PDIF, D-sub, and S-video output. The DN7010 sports a 15.4-inch screen with 1,280 by 800 resolution, 512 MB of RAM, a 40 GB 5400 rom hard drive, a DVD Super Multi Drive, and Core 2 Duo processors running from 1.83 to 2.1 GHz. Upgrades are available to 2 GB of RAM, a 100 GB hard drive. The DN8010 boasts a 17-inch, 1,440 by 900 pixel display, FireWire, gigabit Ethernet, an eSATA port, a 3-in-1 card reader (SD, MS, and MMC). The systems should be available on the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks; the DN7010 will be ¥109.800 (about $940) while the DB8010 will be ¥119,800 (about $1,025). No word on when these units might ship stateside.

Not satisfied? Expect additional flurries for Core 2 Duo product announcements from both domestic and overseas computer makers any second now.

[Updated 28-Aug-2006 12 PM w/Alienware.]
[Updated 28-Aug-2006 12:30 PM w/Dell.]

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