I was invited to attend a presentation to the media where Toshiba (Australia) introduced new notebook models to the New Zealand market, with some pizza and coke in the mix. Callum Eade, General Manager (New Zealand) talked about 20 years of notebooks, and we then were presented with their new line up.
It is interesting to note that back in 1985 Toshiba sold 11,000 notebooks, and twenty years after the company expect pretty much notebooks to represent 50% of overall PC market. The Japanese notebook market is currently just over 50%, while the Australia and New Zealand markets are just under 46%.
The company produced something like 45,000,000 notebooks during this time, and expects to manufacture around 7,000,000 this year alone.
On the new devices... First of all I was really impressed on how light the Toshiba R200 is. This notebook is based on a Mobile Intel Pentium M Processor 753 1.2GHZ, 512MB RAM DDR400, 60GB HDD and only 1.29Kg. It is also super thin: 19.8mm closed, 9.9mm open. It is that light thanks to its Magnesium Alloy Chassis. The HDD and screen are shock mounted, and the notebook comes with a 3D motion sensor that "feels" when it is falling and protects the HDD by retracting its heads. It also comes with a SD card reader and fingerprint scanner for enhanced security
The next model was the Qosmio G20. With a nVidia GeForceFX Go6600 with 128MB dedicated video memory (PCI Express 16x), 3D Graphics accelerator support for Direct 9.0, 128Bit Bus Width, S-Video, Component output, RGB and built-in TV tuner. The display is 17" Widescreen XGA (CSV High-brightness). It comes with a 5-in-1 card reader Adaptor (Secure Digital, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, Multi Media Card, xD Picture Card), DVD SuperMulti Double Layer Drive (DVD±R±RW, DVD+R DL, DVD-RAM). The Intel Pentium M Processor 760 drives 1GB RAM and 160GB (2x 80GB SATA) of disk space. This look like a great entertainment and professional notebook. I will be getting one for a review sometime soon.
I was told the Qosmio is running Toshiba's own Media software, and they expect Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition to be available in the local market around October, due to testing, licensing, etc. It looks like the Windows XP MCE will be offered on new Qosmio notebooks then.
Toshiba Qosmio G20
The Libretto series is back, with the introduction of a new model, the Libretto U100. This is really tiny! The 7.2" WXGA (1280x768 resolution) LCD is nice, albeit a little small. Storage is provided by a 2.8" 60GB HDD, and the computer is driven by a Mobile Intel Pentium M Processor 753 1.2Ghz, with 256MB + 256MB DDR system memory (up to 1280MB). It comes with integrated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and multiple expansion options: Secure Digital (SD) media slot, one PC card slot, miniRGB, 2 x USB 2.0, 1394 Firewire. It weighs only 791g thanks to a Magnesium Alloy Chassis and measures 210x165x28.9/33.2mm. The DVD superdrive is mounted on an external DVD dock. This is another model I want to review soon.
Toshiba Libretto U100
During the presentation Toshiba put lots of emphasis on its EasyGuard framework, a suite of technologies that promises a safer, secure and easier computing experience. Toshiba is enhancing the latest notebooks with robustness, anti-threat security tools, intelligent anti-shock devices, intuitive and manageable wireless connectivity and diagnostic tools. The company will be introducing this to new models, including features like Execute Disable Bit (XD-Bit), Trusted Platform Module, Device Lock software with multiple password levels, HDD Shock Protection with motion sensor, Shock Mounting for LCD and mainboard, plus other related features. It is a long list and looks like something for a review.
All very nice and good, but on the bad side was the Fuel Cell note... Touching on this technology again, Toshiba told us it would be another 18 months to have something available for laptops - I remember a breakfast last year where the same was said... So I guess nothing changed much on this front. They do point however to the technology being developed for the SuperCharge battery that will allow batteries to be charged to 99% of its capacity in only one minute.
Just to remind you guys, below is a picture of the first Toshiba notebook, the T1100, launched in 1985. At its launch, the T1100 featured a 4.77 MHz Intel 80C88 processor, MS-DOS 2.11 operating system, one 720KB 3.5-inch floppy disk drive (the first in a mass-marketed PC) for storage, and 512 KB RAM (it is kilobytes folks, not megabytes). The system was 12.2-inches wide, 2.6-inches high and 12 inches deep with a weight of just nine pounds.
The screen was a black-and-white 9.1- by 4.7-inch LCD with a resolution of 640x200 pixels, and optional 14.4kbps modem. The unit cost more than US$4,000 in 1985.