Averatec Intros Two Ultra-Portable Notebooks

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Averatec expanded its foray into the notebook computer market this week with the introduction of two budget-priced models, and the company's president followed up last year's hint that it would move into two additional categories.

On April 18 Averatec launched its 1000 and 4200 series, which will be in stores by mid-May.

The 1000 Series, $1,299 suggested price, can be equipped with either an ultra-low-voltage Pentium M 733 processor or the Celeron M 373 processor. The 1000 is Averatec's smallest unit with a 10.6-inch LCD and weighs 3.3 pounds. Other features include 512MB of memory, a 60GB hard drive, DVD/CD-RW drive, three USB ports and 802.11g wireless connectivity.

Saeed Shahbazi, Averatec's president, believes the 10.6-inch screen format is perfect for the ultra-portable category as it allows the vendor to keep the weight under 4 pounds. Most manufactures, he said, have adopted 14-inch displays as the standard for their smallest models, but this size screen instantly adds a couple of pounds to the unit.

The $1,199 4200 Series also has a variety of Pentium M and Celeron M processors available. It has a larger 13.3-inch display, 512MB of memory, 80GB hard drive and dual-format DVD burner. It weighs 4.6 pounds.

Averatec is also continuing its practice of producing retailer specific SKUs, Shahbazi said, enabling mass merchants to create SKUs acceptable to their customer base.

Shahbazi said despite the company's expanding notebook business he is looking ahead to its movement away from the computer market. Unlike last July when he was reticent about discussing the company's future, Shahbazi said Averatec is developing a Media Center-like system along with a multifunction handheld device. These are on pace for delivery in late 2006.

The Media Center-type device would have A/V and PC functionality packed into a stereo component-like case. Shahbazi still held back most of the product's details. He did say it would have everything normally found in a Media Center PC. While he would not say which operating system Averatec would choose, he alluded to the fact that other companies have introduced similar products that do not use the Microsoft software.

“We believe the Media Center approach is the right way as far as functionality, but we have a less expensive way to implement the same functionality,” he said.

The handheld device, as was explained last year, would include an MP3 music player, high-end digital camera and perhaps cellphone capability, but this last item is still under review by the company. Adding a cellphone would require agreements with the various cellular carriers, which Averatec does not have at this time.

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