NEC pitches notebook at the great outdoors

The outdoor computer user is the target of NEC Solutions's new Versa E120 DayLite, which features a special reflective display to...

The outdoor computer user is the target of NEC Solutions's new Versa E120 DayLite, which features a special reflective display to ward off the glare from direct sunlight, and two batteries for extended usage.

The notebook, unveiled on Friday (7 June), has a 10.4-inch TFT screen with an illuminated reflective display that can be made brighter for indoor use using a switch on the display panel. It is designed for users such as construction workers or digital photographers, who are outdoors for most of the day.

Power is conserved through the use of Intel's Low Voltage Mobile Intel Pentium III Processor, which runs at 800MHz and features Intel's SpeedStep technology. SpeedStep technology switches between a maximum performance processing mode and a battery-saving mode, depending on the workload demanded by an application, allowing users to save battery life when using less complex applications.

The previous version, the VersaDayLite, used a 600MHz Crusoe processor from Transmeta. NEC chose an Intel processor for this machine because Intel has developed a competitive low-power chip, a choice that didn't exist when the VersaDayLite came out last year.

The Versa E210 DayLite also comes with two batteries: a built-in Lithium ion battery that, at peak usage, lasts for four hours, and an optional removable "battery slice" that can add four more hours of battery power, also at peak usage, an NEC spokeswoman said.

Outdoor workers need to rely on a machine that will keep its charge over a full day in the field, said Alan Promisel, research analyst for portable PCs at IDC.

Three USB ports are provided, but the external CD-ROM drive and optional external floppy disk drive will take up two of those ports. An IEEE 1394 connection port is also included, along with a modem and a 10/100Mbps Ethernet LAN card for network connections.

At just 3.1 pounds (1.4 kilograms), the Versa E120 DayLite is lightweight, and is less than an inch thick. A base configuration, featuring the 800MHz Pentium III, 256Mbytes of memory, a 20Gbyte hard drive, an external CD-ROM drive, and Microsoft Windows XP Professional and Windows 2000 Professional, starts at $2,199 (£1,504).

Pricing has become a key differentiator for notebook manufacturers as PC components have become a commodity, said Promisel. Although the $2,199 price is a little bit expensive, he said, NEC can charge a premium for the machine because it is the only company with this type of display-screen technology.

The Versa E120 DayLite is available immediately in the USA. The notebook has already been released in Japan.

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