It might only be August, but if the PR companies are to be believed the Christmas season is already upon us. Thursday 19 August marked the occasion of Playbite. This event, now in its fourth year, is when PR company Bite Communications brings together its clients and all their latest products under one roof and invites journalists to come and see what will be on offer for the festive season. Think of it as a micro CEBIT, but consisting only of a single, manageable room. Even so, there were plenty of new products get through.
Mt first port of call was the Toshiba stand, on which stood a number of interesting looking laptops.
The first product that caught my eye was Toshiba’s Portege M200, its latest generation of Tablet PC. This features a screen that with a twist and turn can be laid flat against the notebook. The user can then write or draw directly on the screen uisng Microsoft’s OneNote application, enabling the notebook to be used, well, like a real paper notebook.
The specifications have now been updated to feature a 1.6GHz ‘Dothan’ Pentium M, with a healthy 2Mb of Level 2 cache. In combination with nVidia GeForceFX 5200 graphics, this should deliver decent performance. The system is further bolstered by integrated 802.11b Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Pricing comes in at £1409 including VAT.
Toshiba also showed off new notebooks from its new Qosmio brand. These focus on entertainment rather than business use with a number of ‘convergence’ features.
The Centrino powered E10 runs Microsoft’s Windows XP Media Centre Edition and includes an analogue TV Tuner and DVD recorder. To make the machine act more like a conventional consumer appliance than a conventional PC, the DVD, CD and TV functions can be accessed after just a few seconds without having to boot into Windows XP.
Toshiba has also ensured that the screen is ultra-bright to make sure users get the best from TV and DVD sources. Also integrated are two Harmon Kardon with SRS technology, which Toshiba claims are the loudest sounding on any notebook to date.
Staying with the multimedia theme, Toshiba was showing early production samples of its new ‘Multimedia Cetnre Docking Solutions’. These are external devices that are intended to extend the functionality of its notebooks and have been designed to be stackable into a neat rack.
Four modules will be available – an audio/USB hub, an external hard disk storage device, an analogue/digital TV and radio tuner, and a wireless home hot-spot unit.
The audio/USB home is the ‘base station’ and must be purchased first for the other unit to work. This integrates a Creative sound card in order to obtain 5.1 surround sound for watching DVD. It also acts as a four port USB 2.0 hub. The module also includes a remote control for controlling media at a distance from the screen.
The mass storage device also integrates a 6-in-1 card reader for directly watching stored media, while the TV module will offer a DVB-T Digital tuner with RDS FM radio. The hot-spot module will consist of a wireless 802.11b/g router with integrated ADSL modem.
The Multimedia Center will be available from November across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). The base module, the Audio/USB Hub, is expected to sell for under £90. Pricing for the other modules is as yet unconfirmed.
We’ll be following up soon with more products from other vendors at Playbite 2004.