October 4, 1996 11:30 AM PDT

Thin laptops in short supply

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Slim-design notebooks sporting large LCD screens from Compaq (CPQ) and IBM (IBM) are either in chronically short supply or simply not available.

Compaq will not be able to meet demand for its flagship Armada 4000 series until the first quarter of 1997, a company spokesman said. Meanwhile, IBM's ultra-slim, four-pound 560 ThinkPad is back-ordered at a number of resellers nationwide, according to resellers.

Compaq's supply problems seem to stem from an inadequate supply from the manufacturing source, according to resellers. A Compaq spokesman said that it was mostly due to strong demand but said that Compaq was behind in production targets.

"I wouldn't count on seeing [the Armada 4000s] for quite a while," said a source at an East Coast reseller. "They're going to some large corporate accounts, but that's about it." Another reseller said they had been expecting these units to arrive in about a week, but that now the date has been pushed back to November or later.

Compaq's slim-design Armada 4120T and 4130T notebooks, introduced in June, come with 11.8-inch active-matrix screens and 120- and 133-MHz Pentium processors, respectively.

Almost all resellers contacted had neither of these flagship models in stock. The only Armada models available are 1120s, but these are radically different than the cutting-edge 4000 series Armadas and have a relatively bulky, heavy body based on an older Contura design, analysts say.

Availability of IBM's ultra-slim 560, on the other hand, seems to be tied to extremely high demand, not a lack of supply.

"Once they come in, they're gone in a day," said an IBM representative. The 120- and 133-MHz Pentium 560 models come with extra-large 12.1" active-matrix screens.

Many resellers--both telemarketers and full-service resellers--contacted said the 560s were unavailable and it was not clear when other units will arrive. There are some exceptions, but buyers found these had some strings attached.

One large reseller that has a few 120-MHz 560s in stock is selling them at about $300 over the typical retail price of between $3,700 and $3,800 due to the high demand. Another is only shipping stripped-down models, which are intended for businesses that install their own software and come with no operating system or applications.

Digital's ultra-slim HiNote Ultra II continues to be in short supply as well. The Toshiba Tecra 730 with a 150-MHz Pentium processor is also back-ordered at many resellers.

 

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