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No. 364, January 2000

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Japanese Companies in the US


Moving quickly to minimize the fallout on its North American computer sales from the decision to liquidate PACKARD BELL NEC, INC. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 363, December 1999, p. 3), the soon-to-be-operational NEC COMPUTERS, INC. signed a supply arrangement with contract electronics manufacturer SCI SYSTEMS, INC. The Huntsville, Alabama company, one of the biggest in its field, will build or customize to order a range of existing and new NEC CORP. laptop and desktop computers, including Versa notebooks and PowerMate desktop systems. SCI Systems also reportedly will make certain Express5800 servers, although others will be imported from the European operations of NEC COMPUTERS INTERNATIONAL B.V., the parent of Mountain View, California NEC Computers. NEC itself apparently will be the source of the MobilePro handheld PC. As part of the outsourcing deal, SCI Systems will buy some of the equipment that the current NEC Computer Systems Division of Packard Bell NEC has at its Sacramento, California factory and install it at the existing Huntsville-area facility that will be in charge of production for NEC Computers. Like NEC CSD, the new company will target sales to corporate, government and educational markets in the United States and Canada.

In an otherwise off month for product launches, the Computer Systems Group of TOSHIBA AMERICA INFORMATION SYSTEMS, INC. released additions to two of its notebook lines. For performance-seeking mobile professionals, the Irvine, California manufacturer introduced the thin (1 inch), lightweight (4.4 pounds) and stylish Portégé 7140CT. Powered by the fastest mobile Pentium III available, a 500-MHz processor, the system includes 64 megabytes of PC100 memory, expandable to 192 MB, and a 6- gigabyte hard drive. The active-matrix TFT (thin-film-transistor) display measures 13.3 inches and provides a XGA (extended graphics array) resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels. The Portégé 7140CT also comes with a new, powerful three-dimensional graphics controller and two Type II slots or one Type III PC Card slot and a universal serial bus port for connections to peripherals and networks. The notebook's estimated street price is $3,300 for Windows 98 SE and $3,400 for Windows NT 4.0. An extra $650 will buy the DVD (digital video disc) Network Dock II port replicator, which, according to TAIS, turns the Portege 7140CT into a true desktop replacement.

TOSHIBA AMERICA INFORMATION SYSTEMS, INC.'s CSG, the American portable computer sales leader, also expanded its Tecra line of notebooks, which is designed to give corporate buyers power and mobility along with the investment protection of platform stability. The Tecra 8100 series features a 500-MHz or a 450-MHz mobile Pentium III processor with 256 kilobytes of integrated Level 2 cache and a 100-MHz front-side bus for faster processing. As much as 256 MB of high-speed PC100 memory also accelerates applications. Among other options, buyers have a choice of a 14.1-inch or a 13.3-inch active-matrix TFT display, both with XGA resolutions. In fact, configuration flexibility is a defining characteristic of the Tecra 8100 family. By TAIS's count, 5,184 build-to-order hardware combinations are possible.

An exchange rate of ¥103=$1.00 was used in this report. aaa

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