ECS Makes Itself Sonomamous

Five new notebooks to be unveiled at this year's CeBIT, but we've seen them early.

Elitegroup Computer Systems, more commonly known as ECS, is the latest manufacturer to hop on the new Sonoma platform. It is going to be debuting five models at CeBIT next week based on the chipset that we frustratingly cannot call Centrino 2 but we’ve got the skinny right here.

Let’s kick off with the big gun, in this case the ECS 910 a media centre notebook with 17in WXGA screen, DDR2, chunky nVidia GeForce Go 6800 with a whopping 256MB of memory, 7.1 audio and Intel wireless 802.11a/b/g. Clearly designed around performance the 910 earns its multimedia stripes by adding a built-in TV tuner card with remote control and comes with Windows XP Media Centre installed. Notebooks this year are coming out with some serious grunt, and it has to be said the 910 looks to be no exception.

The hard job of following the 910 goes to the ECS 600 and 600L. Like the 910 they are both Windows Media Centre based machines this time sporting 15.4in widescreen displays with four variant video card options: an ATI X700 with either 128MB or 256MB of VRAM, or an lower end X300 available in 64MB and 128MB flavours. An integrated TV tuner card is also included in these models, while the “L” distinguishes itself by featuring the Intel 915GM motherboard chipset.

Switching now to value, ECS will show off the 558 at next week’s gargantuan Hannover free-for-all. Available in 14.1in XGA or 15in SXGA models, the 558s (though not showing it in the photograph here) try to differential themselves from the pack by offering customised exteriors with multiple ID and colour options (when will notebooks get snap on covers like mobile phones, that’s what we want to know!). At less than 3kg as well, the 558 shouldn’t leave you with one arm significantly larger than the other if you are regularly on the move.

That said, ECS’ dedicated portable Sonoma entry comes in the shape of the 223, which has more than a passing resemblance to AJP’s G220 reviewed in February. Clearly based around the same exterior shell, the 223 has had an internal refurb to support the Sonoma standard (courtesy of an Intel 915M chipset) but otherwise comes with the same 12.1in XGA or WXGA display options, as well as an integrated 1.3 Megapixel camera, 4-in-1 card reader and wireless 802.11b/g and it barely tips the scales at just 2kg.

All models will be ready to ship in time with their official unveiling at CeBIT this month apart from the 223 which will arrive in April and the 910 that is pencilled in for June. Pricing has yet to be announced.


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