Tablets and netbooks and smartphones, oh my! And let's not forget notebooks, ultra-thins, and desktop replacements. It's enough to make Dorothy's head spin, but apparently not enough to hold the attention of Lenovo and Toshiba, both of which will add new smartbooks to the mix of portable devices.
Toshiba will kick things off with a smartbook under its Dynabook branding by the end of August. Toshiba will wrap Google's Android platform around Nvidia's Tegra 250 processor to power the 10.1-inch display. Units will first appear in Japan and then spread out to Europe, the Middle-East, and Africa.
Lenovo, which already outed a pair of upcoming smartbooks -- the Skylight and IdeaPad U1 Hybrid -- announced plans to upgrade each one's specs. Gone is the 1GHz single-core Qualcomm processor, to be replaced with Qualcomm's new dual-core 1.5GHz chips. Lenovo is also swapping out the OS in favor of Android. With these changes in place, look for Lenovo to ship both models by the end of the year.
We've praised the concept of Eye-Fi's wireless SD cards on more than one occasion, and as it turns out, we're not the only ones who values this tech's upshot. Toshiba, in collaboration with Singapore-based Trek 2000 International Ltd., announced the launch of an industry forum whose only purpose is to promote a SD card that integrates Wi-Fi with data storage capabilities, Toshiba said.
"In recent years, as digital cameras have achieved huge rates of market penetration, the need for quick and easy way to share photographs has grown," Toshiba says. "The new card offers an innovative solution that brings new capabilities to the already very popular SDHC format.
"The card is designed to bring Wi-Fi functionality to digital still cameras that have an SDHC slot. Once in a camera, a card can recognize and communicate with the same type of card in another camera (on a one-to-one basis), and users can exchange photographs quickly and easily. It also allows users to upload and download photographs to and from a server without any need for a cable connection or transfers of the memory card."
The card supports IEEE 802.11g/b and stores up to 8GB of data. Applicable formats include JPEG and RAW files, Toshiba says.
Measuring about an inch thick and weighing a mere three pounds, Toshiba claims its Portégé R700 is the world's lightest 13.3-inch full-performance ultraportable equipped with an integrated DVD drive.
"Portégé ultraportable laptops are not only a demonstration of Toshiba's superior engineering and craftsmanship, but our ability to innovate to meet the demands of businesses," said Carl Pinto, vice president of product development, Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., Digital Products Division. "The Portégé R700 delivers the ultimate mobile experience at breakthrough prices that businesses have been waiting for, providing both performance and battery life within an extremely thin and light, yet durable form factor without compromising key features such as an integrated DVD drive."
Aimed at the business user, pricing starts out at $890 and includes a Core i3 350M processor, 4GB of DDR3 memory, DVD burner, two dedicated USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA/USB combo port, memory card reader, Intel HD graphics, and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit.
Several upgrade options abound, including Core i5 and Core i7 processors, and solid state drive options.
For mobile PC vendors, the smart money is on netbooks, ultraportables, and upcoming tablets, but don't count smartbooks out of the mix just yet. Celebrating its 25th anniversary in the notebook business, Toshiba this week kicked out the AC100, a mighty smartbook capable of holding a charge for up to a week in standby.
The AC100 comes built around Nvidia's Tegra 250 platform and includes a 1GHz ARM processor. You'll also find 512MB of DDR2 memory, up to 32GB of SSD storage, a single USB 2.0 port, a Mini USB port, 1.3MP webcam, HDMI, Wi-Fi, and various other odds and ends.
What you won't find is any flavor of Windows, and instead Toshiba has tapped into Google's Android 2.1 platform. According to Toshiba, this gives the AC100 a smartphone-like prowess capable of switching from standby to full activity mode in less than a second.
The big question here is whether or not this one will make it to the U.S. market, which might depend on how the whole tablet thing shakes out in the coming months. As it stands, Toshiba will start shipping the AC100 to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa in the third quarter, and after that, it's anyone's guess.
You know that 32GB iPhone 4 you just pre-ordered? The amount of internal storage is going to seem comparatively quaint if Toshiba follows through with its plan to mass produce 128GB embedded NAND flash memory modules by the end of this year.
That's right folks, 128 awesome gigabytes of storage capacity could become standard on everything from high-end smartphones to tablet PCs, digital cameras, and everywhere else you find embedded flash chips. It's the highest capacity yet achieved in the industry, part of which is the result of Toshiba's 32nm manufacturing technology. The other part of the equation involves stuffing sixteen 64Gbit (equal to 8GB) NAND chips onto a dedicated controller into a package measuring just 17 x 22 x 1.4mm.
The implications here are huge, especially with competition ramping up in the mobile market. With 1GHz Snapdragon chips strutting through the smartphone scene and 2GHz chips on the horizon, smartphones are finally powerful enough to truly be considered handheld PCs. And with a spate of Android, WebOS, and Windows 7 tablets on the horizon, Apple's flagship 64GB iPad could suddenly become far less appealing, and for reasons other than lack of Flash support.
Toshiba over the past few days has been busy launching a bunch of notebooks in the Taiwan market, including the 10-inch NB250 netbook, 13-inch to 15-inch Satellite L series notebooks for mainstream folks, high-end Satellite A series, and a pair of ultra-thin Portege models, one built around Intel's Pentium U5400 processor and the other sporting a Core i3 330UM chip. All of these are expected to ship stateside starting later this month.
Amid all the new notebook launches, there's chatter that Toshiba is readying a dual-screen something-or-other by the end of the June. Reports appear mixed on whether this will be a notebook, tablet, or hybrid. Whatever it ends up being, the Guidebook, as the codename goes, will feature two 7-inch displays, says DigiTimes.
Earlier leaks and rumors also have the Guidebook pegged with some sort of Windows OS on the software side and Nvidia's Tegra platform for the hardware. It was originally rumored that the Guidebook would be developed by Compal, but new reports suggest Toshiba is working on this one in-house.
Toshiba said it has begun volume shipments of its MBF family of enterprise hard drives, the same units the company announced back in February. Though it has taken some four months to ramp up production, Toshiba's MBF drives remain the industry's highest-capacity, small form factor enterprise HDDs yet available.
"Toshiba’s MBF series enterprise-class drives possess a range of technological advancements that enable us to deliver flexible computing systems targeted to the exacting needs of our customers," said Mike Turricchi, director of product management, NCS Technologies, which designs solutions for the military, government, and commercial market sectors. "MBF series drives not only allow us to engineer systems with greater storage density to support storage consolidation, but the design characteristics of 2.5-inch drives also mean that they operate more efficiently in a broad range of demanding temperature, vibration, shock, and altitude conditions. In addition to storage systems based in branch offices and data centers, our customers rely on these drives for solutions used in field, mobile, aviation, marine, and seismic environments."
The MBF drives come in 300GB, 450GB, and 600GB capacities with each one featuring a media transfer rate of up to 216MB/s. Each drive also comes with 16MB of cache, a slightly faster than 10,000 RPM, SAS 2.0 interface, 6Gb/s interface, and weigh 220g or less, Toshiba says.
Toshiba today announced the Dynabook TX/98MBL, the industry's first notebook to support 3D Blu-ray playback. With a 15.6-inch LED backlit display, Toshiba's newest Dynabook comes bundled with both WinDVD BD for playing Blu-ray discs and Nvidia's 3D Vision software and hardware.
Other features consists of an Intel Core i7 740QM processor (1.73GHz stock, 2.93GHz Turbo Boost), 640GB hard drive, up to 4GB of memory, Nvidia GeForce GTS 350M graphics with 1GB of onboard RAM, remote control, and a "selectable OS" all wrapped in a "velvety black finish."
Toshiba's pushing the Dynabook TX/98MBL for a late July release in Japan for an as-yet unannounced price point (some reports have it selling for around $2,750). The company also plans to launch this one in the U.S. market, but no word yet on when.
Asus, which has showed an increased interest in the mobile market the past few years, wants to become a top-3 notebook vendor and is apparently willing to buy its way there, according to a report in the Chinese-language Commercial Times.
As the Commercial Times tells it, Asus chairman Jonney Shih is pretty adamant about growing its notebook business through acquisitions, and has already reached out to Toshiba. Nothing has yet been finalized, and it's not even clear how far the two are in discussions about a possible deal.
It's not surprising that Asus would be interested in Toshiba's notebook business. Toshiba, which focuses mainly on regular sized notebooks, currently ranks No. 5 both worldwide and in the U.S. in laptop sales, while most of the success Asus has enjoyed comes from its Eee PC netbook line.
Following an extensive investigation into alleged price fixing violations, the European Commission found nine memory makers guilty of wrongdoing and fined them a collective $404 million.
The companies involved include Samsung, Infineon, Hynix, Elpida, NEC, Hitachi, Toshiba, Mitsubishi, and Nanya, all of which submitted settlements admitting their liability for infringement, according to reports. Micron would also have been included, but ultimately was not fined since it told the Commission about the cartel as far back as 2002.
"You may think that to use the word 'settlement' next to the word 'cartel' sounds quite strange," Almunia said. "So let me explain right away that we are not compromising on cartels, with or without a settlement. A cartel is the worst violation of competition rules since its object is to collude against the interests of other companies and of consumers."
Samsung received the biggest fine at $145.7 million, with Infineon receiving the second largest fine at $56.7 million. The cartel is said to have operated from July 1, 1998 and June 15, 2002.