Intel’s Centrino platform has done a lot to solidify the notebook market over the past few years, but hardware vendors have played a significant role too.

Improvements in features such as weight, battery life and increased production volumes globally are driving acceptance as much as the CPU technology that is now going into them. But it’s probably the great leaps forward in LCD technology, availability and pricing that is driving this market as much as anything. The cost of the LCD accounts for 60 per cent of notebook’s manufacturing costs, giving companies with LCD prowess like BenQ an edge. Boosted by large sales into the education market, the notebook business in Australia is booming, currently reporting 31 per cent increases year-on-year according to IDC.
Increased competition from the likes of LG Electronics, Asus and Samsung has prompted some established vendors into deep discounting to maintain marketshare. These branded offerings have also impacted on the whitebox market which had no room to move on price.
Although retail and consumer sales are becoming more visible, the commercial market is still responsible for the bulk of sales, again driven by large contracts. Widescreen is now well established in the market, expect tablets to make a slow but steady appearance on the market as pen-capable screens become more prominent.
A couple of standout products recently released include the first product out of the IBM stable since the Lenovo handover. Currently the number one commercial notebook vendor locally, Lenovo released the ThinkPad X41 Tablet weighing in at 1.61kg and under 3cm. Still pricey for a notebook, the X41 can be configured with enough battery power to last all day, thanks in part to the ultra-low voltage Pentium M processor.
For the really mobile, another tablet appeared on our shores recently. From Italian company Dialogue, the Flybook convertible is the size of an A4 sheet and weighs only 1.2kg, it has a slot for a SIM card and comes in a range of six colours for the fashion conscious.
Also on the tiny side, Toshiba recently announced the return of the Libretto (pictured). The U10 is even smaller than the Flybook at 210x165mm and less only 980 grams – it’s not a tablet, but it is packed with a 1.2GHz Pentium M 753 processor.

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