Centrino: What It’s Got And What It’s Not

To watch Intel commercials, with satisfied Centrino users “unwiring” out of doors, it would seem there’s some new magic in a Centrino notebook — but there isn’t. Centrino is a set of components tested and certified by Intel to work together for efficient mobile computing. Once a manufacturer’s notebook qualifies, it gets a combination blue “Intel Inside” and hot pink “Centrino” logo.

Physical components include Intel’s Pentium M processor 855 Chipset and PRO/Wireless 2100 network connection. Benefits include thinner, lighter notebooks that perform well, maximize battery life, optimize graphics for mobile PCs, and communicate well from your 802.11b Wi-Fi-equipped home, office, or public hotspot. Hotspots (most often found in coffee chains such as Starbucks, airports, hotels, and restaurants) are served by mobile access providers like T-Mobile HotSpot, iPass, or STSN. You’re still chained to an area that has wireless access, and you still pay a service provider. But the Intel Website includes a HotSpot Finder at www.intel.com/products/mobiletech nology/hotspots/finder.htm.

The first Centrino notebook by Hewlett-Packard (HP) for small to medium business, the NX7000, starts at $1,699. Margaret Franco, HP’s product marketing director for Mobile Business PCs, says large enterprises will wait for combination 801.11a/b/g radios. HP also has a Centrino-based model for home users.

Toshiba is also providing Centrino-based notebooks. Their Satellite Pro M15 is available in retail stores for $1,999. The company’s five enterprise models range from $1,979 to $2,199. Select models of IBM ThinkPads are also Centrino certified.