IBM set to announce sub-3-pound mini ThinkPad
(IDG) -- IBM will announce next week a fully configured sub-3-pound mininotebook running Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows NT.
According to sources familiar with the product, IBM is responding to customer demand for a lightweight, fully configured systems. For some IT managers, a mininotebook is just what their workforce wants.
"It is something we would die for. One of the biggest complaints from half our mobile force is they [notebooks] are too heavy. We are looking for lighter machines that are quite capable," said John Weaver, vice president of IT at Elektra Entertainment Group, in New York.
Weaver said Elektra is looking at the Jornada 820, a lightweight notebook-size system that runs Windows CE.
"The size [of the Jornada] has gotten favorable reviews from our users. But to us the Holy Grail is to take that size and combine it with full functionality at a competitive price," said Weaver, who was not aware of the forthcoming IBM mininotebook product.
Other than the WinCE devices, Electra is scrutinizing the Ricoh Magio, which starts at $1,500.
"If it's $3,500, we are not interested," Weaver said.
The top-of-the-line Magio 4G, is a $2,000 mininotebook running Windows 98 with a 266-MHz Pentium chip, 64MB of RAM, and a 4.3GB hard drive.
The IBM mininotebook will include a 10.5-inch Super VGA display measured diagonally, a PC Card slot, a built-in modem, as well as video, serial, and parallel ports. Overall dimensions of the system will be a bit smaller than an 8-inch-by-10-inch sheet of paper.
The sub-3-pound unit will be a part of the ThinkPad product line and will ship in the third quarter for less than $2,000.
Mininotebooks will fill a niche but will not become a mainstream corporate product, according to Gerry Purdy, president of Mobile Insights, in Mountain View, Calif.
"There is a place in the enterprise for mininotes as a secondary machine. Very few mobile professionals will use them as their primary machine," Purdy said.
So far, the mininotebook field is not crowded. Other than the Ricoh Magio, IBM will be up against Sony's Vaio and Sharp's Actius.
Big Blue will contrast its services and support capabilities against what it believes to be the limited support capabilities of consumer electronics giants, said the source.
InfoWorld Editor at Large Ephraim Schwartz (email@example.com) is based in San Francisco.
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