This Subnotebook Doesn't Scrimp On Computer Comforts

It's hard enough cramming features into notebook PCs, but what about subnotebooks? This new category of portables, weighing under 5 pounds, began hitting the market this year with such entries as Hewlett-Packard Co.'s OmniBook and IBM's ThinkPad 500. These machines pack the power of a desktop PC in a package smaller in length and width than a sheet of typing paper. But such miniaturization often means a sacrifice in features--tiny keyboards and no color screens, for example.

Portable-computer giant Toshiba America Inc. says it will surmount those limitations with its first subnotebook. On Nov. 8, the Irvine (Calif.) unit of Japan's Toshiba Corp. will introduce the $3,999 Prot g T3400. Like most new desktop PCs, the T3400 uses an Intel 486 microprocessor. And unlike other subnotebooks, it has a color screen: a 7.8-inch, active-matrix liquid-crystal display that can produce over 256,000 hues. Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries--also a subnotebook first--provide up to six hours of power while helping pare weight to 4.5 pounds. The T3400 also uses a licensed version of IBM's TrackPoint--an eraserlike nub on the keyboard that controls the onscreen arrow.

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