March 20, 1997 11:00 AM ET
More MMX notebooks on the way
Compaq introduces new portables, while NEC cuts prices
By Mark Moore

  Despite the lack of business applications for the Pentium Processor with MMX Technology, notebook vendors continue to gravitate toward Intel Corp.'s multimedia-enhanced processor.

Compaq Computer Corp. next month will unveil its first wave of MMX notebooks, including a high-end system equipped with the 166MHz MMX chip and 13.3-inch LCD. Meanwhile, NEC Computer Systems Division last week slashed prices as much as 15 percent on its MMX-based Versa 6050 Series notebooks.

However, despite notebook vendors' shift toward MMX, there are still relatively few business applications for the advanced processors.

"Eventually, applications for MMX will find their place on the business scene, but right now there's a lack of relevant applications," said Phillip Redman, an analyst for The Yankee Group Inc., in Boston.

Compaq next month will introduce two additions to its Armada series of notebook PCs, according to sources close to the company.

The first system, a high-end Armada code-named Star Trek, is equipped with a 166MHz version of MMX, a 13.3-inch TFT (thin-film transistor) display, a 2.1GB hard disk drive and a 10-speed CD-ROM drive. The high-end notebook is expected to be priced around $6,000, sources said.

The second system, a sub-$4,000 notebook code-named Star Wars, is an ultraportable that weighs less than 6 pounds and is geared toward the road warrior, sources said.

Compact officials declined to comment.

In an effort to push corporate adoption of MMX, NEC reduced the prices by as much as 15 percent on its MMX-based Versa 6050 Series of notebooks. The machines are based on the 150MHz MMX, said officials at the Mountain View, Calif., subsidiary of Packard Bell NEC Inc.

In its most significant price reduction, NEC lowered the price of its Versa 6050MH from $4,699 to $3,999. In addition to the 150MHz MMX processor, the Versa 6050MH features a 12.1-inch TFT display with Super VGA resolution, a 1.44GB hard disk drive, 16MB of RAM and a 10-speed CD-ROM drive.

NEC also reduced by $500 the price of its Versa 6050MX notebook to $4,699. The Versa 6050MX features a 150MHz MMX chip and a 12.1-inch TFT display.

NEC is expected to announce in June an ultraportable that is less than 1.5 inches thick and weighs less than 5 pounds. The unit, which is expected to be priced at less than $4,000, will come in both 150MHz MMX and 166MHz MMX configurations, according to sources close to the company.

NEC officials declined to comment.

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