Dell will begin selling Latitude notebooks with antennas next week as part of a bid to add integrated wireless capabilities into its portable PCs.
The new features represent the first major redesign of the company's Latitude notebooks in three years. Dell said the machines will also feature a varied colour scheme.
The built-in antenna will allow companies to install 802.11 wireless local area network (Lan) capabilities through the addition of a mini PCI card. However, the cards will not be available until the end of the year at the earliest.
Dell follows IBM, which announced two Intel-based notebook with integrated wireless Lan capabilities earlier this month. Both companies are supporting wireless Lan antennas and modems that conform to the IEEE 802.11B wireless standard. However, the first vendor with built-in antennas was Apple, which last year introduced a line of portable Macs featuring drop-in radio frequency modules.
Dell will begin taking orders on Monday for two notebooks with built-in antenna: the C600 and C800. The C600 features a 14.1in screen, a 700Mhz Pentium III chip, 64Mb of RAM and 6Gb hard drive. The C800, which will ship within 60 days, comes with a 15in monitor, 850Mhz Pentium III processor, 64Mb RAM, 10Gb hard drive and 16Mb of video RAM. The notebooks also includes a IEEE 1394 port for connecting peripheral devices, such as digital cameras.
Researcher Cahners In-Stat predicts that the wireless networking market will be worth $2.2bn by 2003 - up from $771m last year. The company also expects a surge in demand from frequent travellers as airports and hotels begin to install 802.11B wireless base stations.
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