Another "MacBook Air killer" emerges

SANTA BARBARA, CALIF. -- I announced Saturday the arrival of a new category of laptop -- the "MacBook Air killers" -- with the leaked specs of the Lenovo Thinkpad X300. Today I'm back to tell you about the second new system to land in this category: The Portege R500 11J and cheaper R500 11I, the details for which showed up this morning on Akihabara News.

The Portege R500 line, of course, has been around for a while, but the 11J will be "tweaked," presumably to compete more directly with the Air. The best thing about it is HSDPA baked right in. It's also lighter: 1.72 lbs. (compared with 3 lbs for the Air).

Interestingly, both Toshiba and Apple claim their own laptop is thinnest in the world. Who is right? Well, that depends on your religious affiliation. The Toshiba is thinner at the thickest point, but the Apple is thinner at the thinnest point. The Air tapers more radically, all the way down to .16 -- and is probably thinner "on average." However, laptop thickness is conventionally measured at maximum thickness, so if you accept this measure then the whole R500 line is thinner than Air.

The bottom line on relative thickness between the two lines is: Who cares? They're both really, really thin, and that's not going to be a factor if you're considering one or the other.

In fact, when you're comparing specifications between MacBook Air and other slim laptops, the Air doesn't stand out at all. Mobile Magazine published a nice table comparing specs on the Air and a smattering of other thin notebooks, which includes the old Portege R500 line but does not include the new Lenovo Thinkpad X300.

The first decision, of course, is Mac OS X or Windows (yeah, I know, you can run Windows on a Mac -- most people won't). The second decision is: elegant or functional? Third is price. And way down on the list is going to be thickness and weight for most buyers.

Here are the specs on the The Portege R500 11J, courtesy of Akihabara News:

Portégé R500-11J

-Price: $3,620

-Intel® Centrino® Duo with Intel® CoreTM2 Duo Ultra Low Voltage U7600 (2 Mb Cache, 1.20 GHz, 533 MHz FSB), Intel® PRO/Wireless 3945ABG network connection and Intel® 945GMS Express chipset

-Windows Vista® Pro

-12.1" WXGA Transflective LED (1,280 x 800)

-64 Go SSD (Solid State Disk)

-2 Gb (2x1Gb) DDR2 (667 MHz), up to 2gb, one slot available

-No optical drive

-Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator 950, up to 256MB shared

-TouchPad

-Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000)

-Wi-FiTM (802.11 a/g/n), Bluetooth, 3G+

-283 x 215.8 x 19.5/ 25.5 mm, 779 grams

-1 year international warranty

Portégé R500-11I

Price: $2,970

-Intel® Centrino® Duo with Intel® CoreTM2 Duo Ultra Low Voltage U7600 (2 Mb Cache, 1.20 GHz, 533 MHz FSB), Intel® PRO/Wireless 3945ABG network connection and Intel® 945GMS Express chipset

-Windows® XP Pro

-12.1" WXGA Transflective LED (1,280 x 800) monitor

-120 Gb (5400 rpm) S-ATA

-2 GB (2x1Go) DDR2 (667 MHz) RAM, up to 2GB, one slot available

-DVD Super Multi Ultra-slim

-Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator 950, up to 256 MB shared

-TouchPad

-Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000)

-Wi-FiTM (802.11 a/g/n), Bluetooth, 3G+

-283 x 215.8 x 19.5/ 25.5 mm, 999 grams

-1 year international warranty

Portege_R500_1.jpg
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