The PC majors are set to blast the market with notebooks based on Intel's new Tillamook processor next week. As an internal memo from AST to its resellers, outlining its own offering, was leaked, details of its main rivals' machines also emerged.
The 8 September will see the launch of models priced around the #3,000 and #4,000 mark for 200MHz and 233MHz units.
IBM and Toshiba both confirmed they were readying products for 8 September but Compaq was far more coy about its plans. A representative said: ?You will have to wait until the day to find out?.
The memorandum from AST to its resellers spelled out its product announcements and suggested that the company, far from leaving the retail market, is preparing to sell more notebooks through shops.
AST will introduce the Ascentia M 5200T 200MHz machine, which comes with 32Mbytes of memory, a 3Gbytes hard drive, a 20-speed CD drive and a 12.1-inch TFT screen. That costs #2,999.
The higher end model, the Ascentia M 5230X, costs #3,899, and comes with 64Mbytes of Ram, a 4Gbytes hard drive, a 20-speed CD drive and a 13.3-inch XGA screen.
IBM is expected to top that by introducing 200MHz and 233MHz machines with 14.1-inch colour screens and DVD drives, according to a source at the company.
But a source at Toshiba indicated that the machines will be hard to get here in Europe. He said: ?We will announce on 8 September but the machine will not be available for a while. Availability will be limited in Europe, the US will get volume supply first.?
AST?s letter also spells out a deal for resellers, which will be offered a 35 per cent discount on five demo models plus point of sale material.
Con Mallon, marketing director of AST Europe, wrote: ?The point of purchase display is a piece of cardboard engineering that will allow the Ascentia M to be best displayed. It will obviously point out the main features of the product, whilst at the same time be eye-catching and invite people to view the product.?
Nick Eades, Thinkpad product manager at IBM UK, said: ?My understanding was that AST was leaving retail. There are very few dealers with demo areas these days and so this suggests the company is taking another retail route.?
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