Welcome to Sunny Santa Rosa

By Eric Griffith

May 09, 2007

Intel’s latest Centrino chips with 802.11n are now in laptops, but at least one vendor is holding off because of the integrated management system.

Intel’s latest Centrino chipset -- the Centrino Pro, formerly code-named “Santa Rosa” -- officially debuts today in a number of laptops. The consumer version is called Centrino Duo.

Both chipsets feature the Core 2 Duo chips, the DirectX 10-compatible Mobile 965 Express chipset, Intel Turbo flash-based memory built in for caching data, and, on the wireless side, support for the draft of 802.11n (via the Intel PRO/Wireless 4965AGN IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n chip).

One of the more interesting things for IT managers in the new Centrino is the vPro laptop management system for tracking hardware and software inventory. It’s integrated in Centrino Pro -- but not all the laptop makers are embracing Centrino because of it.

Among the vendors out with the latest Centrino today:

Acer America’s Aspire 5920 combines the Centrino Pro with Acer’s Gemstone industrial design. They call the laptop a “solution for all your entertainment demands,” as it has a 15.4-inch extra-bright widescreen display, Dolby surround sound, HD-DVD drive and HDMI port, and the option for a TV tuner.

Asus has the W7S ultraportable, which weights four pounds but features a 13.3-inch WXGA LCD screen and full-size keyboard. The G1S is a full-size laptop with 15.4-inch screen, upgradeable to a 17-inch LCD.

Fujitsu calls its LifeBook E8410 notebook with 15.4-inch widescreen display the “flagship of its corporate desktop replacement portfolio.” It, along with the 4.3-pound LifeBook T4220 convertible Tablet PC, the security-enhanced LifeBook E8310 corporate notebook and the LifeBook A6030 mainstream notebook with 15.4-inch extra bright display, will all run Centrino Pro.

Sony features a high-definition 15.4-inch display to go with its Blu-ray DVD drive/burner and HDMI connector in the VAIO FZ Premium Edition (the standard FZ comes cheaper, sans Blu-Ray). Other VAIOs with new Centrino include the SZ and AR series.

Toshiba has two business models, the Tecra M9 and smaller A9, both with Centrino Pro, out now. They have shock-absorbing designs, hard drive protection against drops, and a spill-resistant keyboard. The company plans some consumer models later this year. They’ll include the Qosmio G45, and the Satellite P205 and A205.

Gateway’s new 14-inch E-265M is almost identical to the 15.4-inch model, the E-475M (except for screen size, natch). Both are for businesses and are big on the security extras, like a privacy filter so people to the side can’t see the screen.

Lenovo says its latest are the “strongest, coolest, quietest and best performing” ThinkPad-branded notebooks ever, some of that due to a Top Cover Roll Cage to improve durability. The T61 and R61 both feature wide-screen 14.1-inch displays, meant for businesses since they have Centrino Pro.The Lenovo 3000 N200 15.4-inch widescreen is a Centrino Duo for the mid-range user. All come with Lenovo’s Ultra Connect II design, which is supposed to reduce interference from the laptop itself (like LCD noise) and boost signals for Wi-Fi and 3G connections.

The Dell Latitude series adds three new systems this week -- but none of them are Centrino Pro. They do have the Core 2 Duo processors, but Dell is not committing to using the full Pro set because of the vPro Active Management Technology (AMT). Dell is sticking, for now at least, with the DASH management system developed by the Desktop Management Task Force standards body, which supports both Intel and AMD  processors. Not supporting Pro doesn’t mean they won’t have embedded 11n, as evidenced by their “HyperConnect” feature. Integrated mobile modems supporting HSDPA (from Cingular/AT&T and Vodaphone) and EV-DO (from Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel) will also be options in some models. A Dell Latitude D630c using the full Centrino Pro technology is expected in the Fall.

HP , on the other hand, is working with Intel. The HP Change and Configuration Center will use an Out of Band Management Console to manage vPro-equipped laptops over their wireless connections, according to an article at eWeek. HP also has as many as seven new notebooks under its Compaq brand using the new Centrino, including two ultra-lights (under 3.6 pounds), three mid-sized notebooks, and a couple of high-performance units.



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